A visibly nervous Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz took the podium in the Defense Ministry Monday evening to announce what many had already begun to expect: he would stay with the Likud Party.
With Sharon charting a new course with a new party, Mofaz said, "I came to the conclusion that the best place for me, for the present moment, and for the future, is to stay in the Likud."
"I have decided to stay in the Likud and campaign for the Likud chairmanship," he said.
"I believe I have the necessary qualities to lead the Likud, and I believe that I can win." He offered himself up as the ideal statesman, a person with experience in security, politics and diplomacy.
The press conference was ostensibly arranged for Mofaz to brief reporters on the escalating situation along the northern border with Lebanon, where Hizbullah launched a multi-pronged attack Monday that left four of its own men dead and more than 10 Israelis wounded. Mofaz offered his condolences to the families of the injured and vowed that Israel would do its utmost to provide security for northern residents.
Mofaz, who warned of such attacks yesterday, said, "Syria and Iran are behind these attacks." International pressure on both rogue states spurred them to escalate the violence along the northern border, he reported.
He would not detail what Israel's response would be.