Mofaz: PM tries to deflect criticism with Iran talk

Opposition leader says Israel should only strike Iran's nuclear facilities if it sets program back 10 years.

August 1, 2012 10:05
2 minute read.
Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz

Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)

Opposition Leader Shaul Mofaz on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of using the Iranian nuclear issue to deflect criticism of his policies on the economy and the Tal Law.

In an interview with Israel Radio, Mofaz said that the prime minister was concerned about opposition to tax increases and spending cuts, including a notable increase to gas prices.

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On Tuesday, Netanyahu hit the airwaves, giving interviews to four major evening news shows in which he reiterated that Israel would control its own decisions about attacking Iran. Responding to Netanyahu's interviews, Mofaz told Israel Radio that the prime minister had lost confidence and was stressed about the widespread criticism of his inability to replace the Tal Law on haredi enlistment before it expired on Tuesday night.

With the Tal Law's expiry, the law reverted to vestiges left over from Israel's founding and before, meaning that, in principal, nothing should prevent the government from drafting haredim.  In practice, however, the Defense Ministry has not yet decided on an official mechanism, and is unlikely to increase the haredi draft on its own.

Environmental Minister Gilad Erdan hit back at Mofaz on Wednesday, stating that Mofaz's criticism was "ridiculous," Israel Radio reported.

Erdan said that the media had fanned the flames of the Iranian issue, that Netanyahu's interviews on Tuesday were merely a response and that Mofaz should not criticize Netanyahu for responding to inaccuracies being reported in the media.

The minister said that over four years ago, Mofaz himself said attacking Iran would be unavoidable.

Erdan added the prime minister would clearly prefer the US to lead any attack on Iran, but that it was still important to make it clear to the world that Israel always reserves the right to act unilaterally to defend itself.

Addressing the Iran question himself, Mofaz said that the US must lead the fight against its program. Iran, he said, poses a threat to the whole world, not just to Israel.

Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat

Mofaz added that sanctions needed more time to pressure Iran and that an attack should be a last alternative. He further qualified the condition for an attack, saying it only made sense if it could set back Iran's nuclear program at least ten years.

There is disagreement among analysts as to how far back an Israeli attack would set Iran's program, though most analysts agree that a US-led attack would take it back considerably further.

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