Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz will already enjoy the fruits of his new title of vice
premier next Thursday when he fills in for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu,
who is embarking on a two-day visit to Prague.
The law requires that an
acting prime minister be appointed whenever the prime minister goes
While fellow vice premiers Moshe Ya’alon and Silvan Shalom have
alternated in the symbolic role until now, the coalition agreement states that
Mofaz will fill in for Netanyahu every time he leaves the country from now
The title of vice premier is symbolic and has no legal status, unlike
the title vice prime minister, which enabled Ehud Olmert to automatically
succeed former prime minister Ariel Sharon when he became incapacitated.
Netanyahu has not appointed a vice prime minister.
Four ministers have
the title of deputy prime minister, which is also symbolic: Ehud Barak, Avigdor
Liberman, Eli Yishai and Dan Meridor.
The position of vice premier is
actually a downgrade from opposition leader, because diplomatic protocol
requires that visiting foreign leaders meet with the opposition leader but not
the vice premier.
Mofaz will also receive lighter protection from
security services and a less prestigious car.
Mofaz on Thursday defended
his decision to join Netanyahu’s coalition, writing on his Facebook page that
the national unity government was “a historic opportunity to make meaningful
steps for the good of the public.”
Mofaz, who has been heavily criticized
as a “flipflopper” for joining Netanyahu’s coalition after having attacked the
prime minister as “a liar” in his role as opposition leader, stated that “there
are times when the leadership must make decisions even if they seem
The newly-inducted vice premier added: “In my view, it would
have been irresponsible to miss this opportunity. The responsibility is
on me, and me alone. Let me be judged by my results – I will stand the test.”