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 abroad.

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 on.

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 unpopular.”

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.”

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger