MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima), chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee, slammed the coalition on Sunday, accusing it of trying to silence him
by voting against a report on the consequences of the Palestinian UN statehood
“The coalition is attempting to shut my mouth and prevent the report
from being published,” Mofaz said, following the vote.
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“The coalition has
a majority, but it should not be used to silence the committee that is
responsible for overseeing the work of the heads of the country.”
Kadima lawmaker called the results of the vote “scandalous” and potentially
harmful to Israel. However, the opposition and the coalition agreed to keep the
contents of the report classified.
He explained: “This report is intended
to prevent oversight on the part of decision makers. “The coalition tried
to say this is my personal report, and not the committee’s, but I haven’t been
talking to myself for the past months. This is not a political
Mofaz and the subcommittee headed by MK Yohanan Plesner
(Kadima), spoke to top IDF officers, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense
Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, as well as Mossad,
Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and National Security Council officials,
before compiling the report.
“The prime minister doesn’t want to hear the
committee’s opinion, which is that he failed in his handling of the strategic
process,” the committee chairman said.
Although the report will not be
distributed to the press, as was previously announced, copies will be sent to
Netanyahu, Barak, Lieberman and IDF officers, so they can respond to it before
the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Mofaz called upon those
receiving the report to “read it and take it seriously.”
will continue to supervise the processes before and after September,” Mofaz
added. “Otherwise we would not be doing our job properly.”
MK Arye Eldad
(National Union) voted with the coalition, explaining that “Mofaz’s image
consultants must have told him to write an essay about ‘what I did on my summer
vacation,’ and then publish it in the name of the Foreign Affairs and Defense
“Mofaz’s point of view on the need to establish a Palestinian
state and divide Jerusalem are well-known, but his chutzpah reached new heights
when he attempted to wrap his ideas in the guise of a professional, objective
report,” Eldad said.
Mofaz, however, insisted that “there is nothing
personal – it’s a terrific report,” but its findings cannot be published because
it is “mostly based on classified information.”
Plesner said that “the
report actually passed the censor, but we decided it wouldn’t be right to
publish it, because it would be diplomatically embarrassing for
Although they did not discuss details, Mofaz and Plesner both
said the report indicates that the government could have done more to prevent
the UN vote from taking place.
“The executive branch did not do proper
preparation work,” Plesner said. “September’s process could have been avoided.
We found failures in the government’s handling of the situation.”
also said that, should the Palestinians’ bid succeed, they could ask to be part
of any UN body, including the International Criminal Court.
find itself at a disadvantage and in a harder position to renew talks in the
future,” he said.
“The Palestinians’ steps will make things harder for
Israel diplomatically by isolating Israel both economically, by enabling
sanctions, and security-wise,” Mofaz said.
In previous meetings, Mofaz
has criticized the government for lacking a strategy to deal with the
Palestinian statehood bid. He has pointed out that officials from different
ministries and security agencies have given differing accounts as to what they
expect the ramifications of the September 20 vote to be.
At the same
time, coalition members have been very critical of the way Mofaz has been
running the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Some have accused him
of purposely holding meetings during the Knesset recess, which began three weeks
ago, so his initiatives and reports would pass more easily.
the committee for his own political benefit, to fight against [Kadima leader
Tzipi] Livni and the Likud,” a Likud source said, adding that the party
considered removing Mofaz from the chairmanship, which traditionally goes to the
largest party in the coalition.