(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
Although the date for the next Knesset elections remains over two years away, MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) announced Saturday night that he expects to be the next prime minister – and, en route, defeat party rival Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni for the party’s leadership. Mofaz’s comments were the latest in a string of events starting last Tuesday that indicated that the competition between Kadima’s two top MKs was anything but resolved.
“I see myself as a candidate for the premiership, and I will get there,” promised Mofaz during an interview on Channel 2 Television’s “Meet the Press”. “I have never hidden the fact that I will run for the leadership of Kadima. I will win in Kadima and I will win in the general elections.”
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Mofaz predicted that “if, by March, there isn’t a national unity government, it will be clear that there is no peace process. And if there is no process, there will be elections. It is just a matter of time – I don’t know how many months afterward the elections will be, but they will come.”
In the mean time, Mofaz toed the party line on the hottest issue
threatening to divide Kadima in the coming weeks – the government’s
alleged intention to appoint Mofaz to replace Tzahi Hanegbi as chairman
of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. “I am also in
favor of Kadima’s preference to receive the chairmanship of the Economic
Affairs Committee,” asserted Mofaz, but then added that “I also think
that when we are given the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, we
have a certain amount of responsibility.”
The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, he said “is an important
committee, and I am interested in leading it.” Hanegbi himself pushed
for Mofaz’s appointment to lead the committee, during a press conference
that the suspended MK held minutes after the Jerusalem Magistrate’s
Court determined that he had acted with criminal intent in lying under
The former chief-of-staff, and second-runner-up in the 2008 race for
Kadima leadership continued to argue that his diplomatic agenda
constituted a viable alternative to the current situation, which he
described as a “diplomatic dead end”.
“I travel throughout the country and the world. In Sweden, I presented
my plan – for regional peace – and it was greeted with enthusiasm,
because people say that it is pragmatic. Regional peace is achievable.
The first step on the way is through an interim agreement with the
Palestinians,” Mofaz elaborated. “My diplomatic policy is the most
significant thing that I have ever taken upon myself.”
One day earlier, Livni also attacked the government’s foreign policy,
saying that the government suffers from “political schizophrenia”.
"I heard [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman when he said that whoever
thinks it is possible to make peace with Syria is a 'political
hypochondriac,'" Livni said during a speech to residents of the Menashe
Regional Council. "If we are speaking in terms of psychiatry, I think
that a government which one day uses this sort of tone, and on other day
speaks about peace with Syria and the Palestinians, is a government
that conveys 'political schizophrenia.'"
Livni’s comments came in response to Lieberman's statements during a
Thursday speech in the Golan Heights town of Katzrin, in which Lieberman
complained that “only a political hypochondriac can say Syria is a
peace partner, especially under the current regime."