Mofaz bans PM staff from meetings after misquote

Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman also accuses Livni of leading 'only when in the mood.'

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
January 17, 2012 20:01
2 minute read.
Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz

Shaul Mofaz 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s media advisers may no longer attend confidential meetings, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) instructed the committee’s staff on Tuesday.

Mofaz’s decision followed his calling a press conference on Monday in which he repeatedly called Netanyahu a liar, because one of the prime minister’s spokesmen inaccurately quoted the committee chairman in a leak to reporters.

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During a meeting of the committee, a spokesman for the prime minister told reporters that Mofaz said IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz did not tell the truth in his reports on the defense budget, a claim that Netanyahu vehemently opposed.

On Monday night, Knesset legal advisor Eyal Inon sent a letter to the offices of the Prime Minister and Gantz saying that he reviewed the protocol and at no point had Mofaz said that the chief of staff lied.

The committee chairman’s office explained that Netanyahu’s media staff will remain outside of meetings closed to the press until a “comprehensive investigation” of the incident takes place and the “necessary lessons” are learned.

Netanyahu refused to comment about the matter on-therecord on Monday. However, the Likud Party released a statement slamming Mofaz’s “pathetic show.” According to the statement, the Kadima MK’s actions were planned in advance as part of his party leadership campaign.



Sources close to Tzipi Livni said they did not believe Mofaz planned the incident in advance but rather acted rashly and made a mountain out of a molehill. They said Mofaz would lose points with the public for interspersing politics and security.

A Mofaz associate expressed outrage with Livni taking the side of the prime minister over the number two leader in Kadima.

They questioned why Livni, who is a member of the committee, skipped a session with the prime minister.

In a fierce attack on Livni, Mofaz told Army Radio that “for her, leadership is something she only does when she is in the right mood, only if it is cloudy and rained the night before.” He accused Livni of wanting to delay the next Kadima leadership race for as long as possible out of fear of losing to him.

“I understand that she wants to delay her [political] end,” Mofaz said. “She’s only human. It’s natural. But it’s very bad for Kadima and it’s very bad for Israel.”

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