Peretz and Mofaz tensions boil over

Current, former defense ministers exchange heated accusations.

olmert peretz 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
olmert peretz 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
In the five months since Amir Peretz dethroned Shaul Mofaz as the country's defense minister, the two have kept their tensions out of the public eye. That period ended Wednesday, when a harsh exchange between the two leaked out of the tense, six-hour security cabinet meeting. According to these leaks, Peretz erupted after Mofaz, who today is the transportation minister, made a tactical suggestion regarding the plan that Peretz and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz brought to the ministers for their approval. Rather than moving the forces from the South to the North, Mofaz recommended starting at the Litani and moving downward. "If you would have brought this plan to us on the first day of the war I would have supported it," Mofaz said. "Only Saturday night [at a meeting of the Forum of Seven], I asked the defense minister if he wanted to expand the operation, and he and the IDF said 'no.'" Peretz yelled, "What do you want? What did you do as defense minister? Where were you for those years when Hizbullah built this threatening array [of missiles]?" Mofaz replied, "Why are you taking things in this direction? This is not the time." At that point, Prime Minster Ehud Olmert intervened. He said that the whole world was watching now, and that the entire country was "judging how we are acting at this time. I expect you to keep your cool."