Mofaz accuses coalition of 'silencing' report on UN bid

FADC chairman slams gov't for voting not to release report on fallout of Palestinian statehood bid: "PM failed in handling of strategic process."

Shaul Mofaz 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS)
Shaul Mofaz 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
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 bid.
“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.”
The 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 report.”
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.”
“The committee 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 Committee.
“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 Israel.”
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.”
Plesner also said that, should the Palestinians’ bid succeed, they could ask to be part of any UN body, including the International Criminal Court.
“Israel will 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.
“Mofaz uses 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.