Opposition leader Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) blamed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
for what he called the deteriorating relationship between the US and Israel, in
a special meeting during the Knesset’s summer recess on Wednesday.
Prime Minister, tell me, who is our biggest enemy, the US or Iran? Who do you
want replaced, [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad or [US President Barack]
Obama?” Mofaz asked in the plenum.
“How low are you prepared to drag
relations with our closest ally?” According to the opposition leader, world
leaders have not turned their backs on Israel, but they do not trust
“Israel is not alone; we have good friends overseas. Talk to
them. Have a real, open dialogue. Make them partners, not observers from
the side,” Mofaz said.
MK Nachman Shai (Kadima) also criticized
Netanyahu, saying there is a rift between him and the US
“Obama’s decision not to meet with Netanyahu says one thing –
he does not have an interest in a public dialogue with Israel,” the MK
“Intimate meetings between leaders are necessary, but it is not
happening this time.”
Shai said Netanyahu has insinuated that he does not
have faith in Obama and the international community by saying that, since they
will not draw a red line for Iran’s nuclear program, they cannot not draw one
Two other Kadima MKs privately said that Mofaz’s speech went
too far in taking Obama’s side.
Israelis like Netanyahu more than Obama,
they explained, and Mofaz’s position could lead to Kadima losing
“US-Israel relations are a cornerstone of our foreign policy,
which has been tested before,” Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor said
in his rebuttal to Mofaz’s speech, mentioning tensions between former prime
ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Menahem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir with former US
presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush,
“Things happened,” Meridor shrugged, “but everyone who
follows what happens in the UN Security Council and General Assembly know that
we do not have a greater ally than the US.”
The minister added that
Israel has never endorsed a candidate in the US presidential or any other
election in any foreign country, and expressed confidence that the government
will maintain good relations with whomever is elected.
Mofaz also called
for Netanyahu to “stop seeding fear and panic” on the topic of
“Wars should only be waged when there is no choice,” he said. “We
know how they will start, but not how they will end. Where is your judgment? You
are scaring the public.”
The opposition leader slammed Netanyahu’s
attempts to convince the world to help stop Iran’s nuclear program, saying that
the result of his actions was the fact that representatives of 120 countries,
along with UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-Moon, clapped for Ahmadinejad at the
Non- Aligned Movement gathering in Iran last month.
“Our prime minister
created panic, while Tehran succeeded in creating a coalition of friendly
states,” he stated.
Meridor responded by saying that there is a worldwide
battle to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons that has diplomatic,
economic and military aspects, many of which are confidential.
an unprecedented battle,” he said. “Israel played a major part in moving it
along and putting Iran on the international agenda.”
Meridor, the battle has been successful thus far in preventing Iran from
reaching its goals. However, he continued, Tehran has not stopped its efforts,
and the world must stop them.
“We wouldn’t go to war easily, because
people are killed in war,” Meridor added. “No war is something a sane person
does unless it is his last choice.”
Mofaz referred to leaks from security
cabinet meetings on Iran asking how “one of the most discreet and intimate
forums in the State of Israel became an open market,” and saying that Netanyahu
should undergo a polygraph test.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin
paraphrased Begin, saying that ministers’ truthfulness should not have to be
tested; rather, trustworthy ministers should be selected.
cannot be turned into an institute for researching the truth,” he
quipped.Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.