Mofaz backtracks on war probe
Mofaz won't oppose government commission.
By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
September 12, 2006 02:16
2 minute read.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz has changed his mind and will either abstain or vote in favor of the government commission Prime Minister Ehud Olmert formed to investigate the war in Lebanon, sources close to Mofaz said on Monday night.
Mofaz's decision came a day after he became the first Kadima minister to call for a state commission of inquiry into the war. Olmert's associates reacted angrily to Mofaz's call, saying that Mofaz was more to blame than anyone else for the blunders of the war.
A spokesman for Mofaz said he would not oppose the commission because he was satisfied with the appointment of retired judge Eliahu Winograd to head the committee.
Olmert's loyalists in Kadima had accused Mofaz of supporting a state commission of inquiry for political reasons. Tension between Olmert and Mofaz had been rising since the war and Mofaz complained that his ministry was not allocated funding due to his opposition to the prime minister.
"If he would have supported a state commission from the beginning, I could have taken it at face value, but because of its timing, it looks like manipulation and not a serious decision," said Interior Minister Roni Bar-On, the closest cabinet minister to Olmert.
Olmert's associates went as far as to accuse Mofaz of preparing for a run for the Likud leadership against opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu. But sources close to Mofaz denied the charge and said he continues to register new Kadima members in hopes of facing off against Olmert for the Kadima leadership.
A Kadima MK who has repeatedly been mentioned as a possible returnee to the Likud said on Monday that he "has never and will never trust Mofaz" and that he would not be part of his political moves.
Mofaz met with disgruntled Kadima MK Marina Solodkin on Monday but the two did not speak about the possibility of switching parties. Instead, they planned strategy for making changes within Kadima.
Likud MK Yisrael Katz, who he ads the party's governing secretariat, had been trying to persuade Mofaz to return to the Likud for months. Katz said he hopes that the 10 Kadima MKs needed to legally break off from the party will soon take steps to return to the Likud.
"I think Mofaz and others have a place in the Likud," Katz said. "He is fitting and he would help us provide an alternative to the government."
A Likud spokesman said the official policy of the party was not to intervene in Kadima's affairs and to allow Kadima MKs to continue to dig the party's own grave.
"If we are seen as interfering, it could boomerang against us," the spokesman said.