silvan shalom 248 88 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Likud MK Silvan Shalom met with representatives of every Muslim country except Saudi Arabia in his three years as foreign minister, Shalom told a crowd of Likud activists in his annual holiday toast on Monday night in Ramat Gan.
Shalom did not elaborate on meetings with representatives of Muslim countries like Iran, Iraq or Sudan. But he mocked Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for the headlines in the Hebrew press about a purported meeting with Saudi King Abdullah that Olmert denied.
"If he really met the king of Saudi Arabia, it's a great accomplishment," Shalom said sarcastically. "But such meetings have to be behind the scenes. They wanted headlines to show that they are doing something. To run to tell their friends to get a headline on Rosh Hashana is not serious."
Shalom lashed out at the government for its inexperience and for not appointing a state commission of inquiry to investigate the war in Lebanon. He said the Quartet's willingness to endorse a Palestinian national unity government was a significant diplomatic failure on the part of the government.
The Likud leadership candidate also did not spare criticism for incumbent Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu. Without mentioning him by name, he said the party would have to replace Netanyahu to return to power.
"We have to understand why a million people left us and decided not to vote Likud," Shalom said. "They left because they thought we lost our way. The public didn't buy our message in the 2006 election. We can't run with a socioeconomic flag flown at half-mast or not at all."
Shalom said that polls indicating that Likud would return to power if elections were held today must be taken with proportion. He said the polls showed that two-thirds of the party's voters had not returned, so Likudniks should not get excited by the polls.
Likud MKs Reuven Rivlin, Yisrael Katz, Dan Naveh, Yuval Steinitz and Moshe Kahlon addressed the event and praised Shalom without criticizing Netanyahu. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Olmert slammed Netanyahu for predicting Kadima's imminent demise.
"If I have to compare the solidity of my party with the solidity of the Likud and what some of the Likud members are telling me about how they are trying to maneuver in order to outsmart their own leaders, they should be worried about themselves before they try to change the structure of Kadima," Olmert said.
David Horovitz and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.
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