Analysis: A new balance at the cabinet on Iran

By inserting Kadima into government, Netanyahu may be trying to tighten ranks ahead of possible war.

May 8, 2012 18:53
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Netanyahu at cabinet meeting

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pounding fists 311. (photo credit: Emil Salman / Pool / Haaretz)


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On June 4, 1967, then-prime minister Levi Eshkol formed a national unity government and appointed Moshe Dayan minister of defense. A day later, the Six Day War broke out.

The threat that Israel faces today from Iran is not as imminent as the one Eshkol was concerned with 45 years ago. On the other hand, by inserting Shaul Mofaz and Kadima into the government, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu might be trying to close the ranks ahead of a war that might be looming on the horizon, a war against Iran.

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inserting Shaul Mofaz and Kadima into the government, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may be trying to tighten ranks ahead of a possible war that might be looming on the horizon, a war against Iran.

Mofaz, however, is not someone who is expected to immediately fall in line behind Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak when it comes to Iran.

A former defense minister and chief of staff, he has a record that nearly parallels Barak’s and could try and take a stand against him in the government. Mofaz is intimately familiar with the Iranian issue – not just because of his birth in Tehran – but also from his more recent roles as chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and head of the Strategic Dialogue with the United States until 2009.

According to media reports over the past year, Mofaz has been opposed to an Israeli attack on Iran and will find a partner in his successor as IDF chief of staff, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon, who is also opposed to unilateral Israeli action.

Both believe a military option should be a last resort and that Israel should instead try and get the United States to stop the Iranians.

If Netanyahu plans on bringing such an option to a security cabinet vote soon, possibly as early as this summer, he likely gave thought to the way Mofaz would vote.

Judging by the decision to bring Kadima into the government, the prime minister either is not planning on bringing a possible strike to a vote or he believes that he has a majority in the cabinet without Mofaz. Another possibility is that Netanyahu believes that once Mofaz joins the government and is reexposed to the latest classified material on Iran, the Kadima leader will change his mind.

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