Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is keeping the threat of a nuclear Iran on the front pages in order to divert attention from the country’s socioeconomic problems, new Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz said in interviews Thursday.

Mofaz said he did not trust Netanyahu to handle the Iranian issue. He complained that the prime minister was irresponsibly dealing with the matter too publicly when it should be handled behind the scenes.

“It is more than political spin,” Mofaz told Channel 2. “He wants to present himself as the defender of Israel. All the evaluators believe there is more time. Iran is still not a nuclear country. The US is leading the effort against Iran, and it has to stay that way.”

Mofaz warned that a premature military operation would be “disastrous” and limited in its effectiveness. He said Israel must have all its options open and that a military solution should be the last resort.

“If God forbid, when all the arrows are out of the quiver and the sword is on our necks and the US isn’t doing the deed, the last option is a military operation,” he said, “I would stand by any prime minister and help him with that. But this is not the time.”

The Likud responded that Mofaz, who said the disengagement would help Israel’s security, should not offer advice on the Iranian threat.

Regarding unsympathetic polls since his election, Mofaz expressed confidence that they would gradually change.

In polls published in the economic newspaper Globes and on Channel 10, Kadima received 15 seats. Yediot Aharonot predicted only 12.

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