Mofaz promises new gov't by Nov 11

Says he'd form national-unity government with Likud before municipal ballot; Livni: Kadima alive, thriving.

Livni lovely 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Livni lovely 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, one of two front-runners for Kadima chairman, promised on Sunday that if elected, he would form a national-unity government with the Likud before the November 11 municipal ballot. Mofaz made the promise at a political rally hosted by Kadima's mayoral candidate in Kiryat Ono, Ami Kahlon. The event attracted all of Kadima's top brass and top leadership candidates, including Mofaz, who came directly to the rally from the airport after arriving from Washington. In his visit to the US, Mofaz discussed the existential threat from Iran with top American officials. He told the crowd in Kiryat Ono that such threats required the formation of a new government as soon as possible. "Whoever wins this race will be not only the chairman of Kadima but also the prime minister of Israel," he said. "A general election is against the interests of Israel. I will form a national-unity government by the [November 11] municipal race. Some say it's hard to form a national-unity government, but I have withstood tougher challenges before and I will succeed in this challenge by forming a government by the municipal race, so we can handle the existential threats that Israel is facing." Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu's spokesman Ophir Akunis responded by reiterating Netanyahu's statement made last week that he would not join any Kadima-led government before the next general election, no matter who won the Kadima race on September 17. The other top Kadima leadership contender, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, was present at the hall in Kiryat Ono when Mofaz spoke, but she made a point of not entering until he left and ensuring that she would not be photographed together with him. Livni told the crowd that the turnout at the event proved that "Kadima is alive and thriving and governing." "Kadima believes in ethical leadership that can keep promises," she said. "Leadership is not just a technical issue. We in Kadima made promises and didn't keep them, but now we are making the changes that will allow us to keep them." The Kadima faction will meet on Monday at the party's Petah Tikva headquarters for the first time since Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced last Wednesday that he would not seek the Kadima leadership and that he would quit the premiership after a new party chairman was elected. The faction is expected to discuss an initiative by Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik and MK Tzahi Hanegbi to require the four Kadima leadership candidates to run a clean campaign. According to the proposal, the second slot on the Kadima MK list would be reserved for whoever finished second in the leadership race and all the candidates would promise to remain in the party no matter who won. Ben Sales contributed to this report.