Posts Tagged ‘Shaul Mofaz’

Palestinians: Meeting delayed with Israeli vice PM

June 30th, 2012 Comments off

A scheduled high-profile meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz has been postponed indefinitely, a senior Palestinian official said Saturday.
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Last-Minute Netanyahu-Mofaz Deal Scuttles Elections, Upends Israeli Political Scene

May 8th, 2012 Comments off

In the early hours of Tuesday (tomorrow) morning, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Shaul Mofaz reportedly agreed on a government of national unity, canceling September elections after the Knesset had already passed the first reading of a motion to disperse (dissolve itself). Reports from Haaretz here and The Jerusalem Post here.

The immediate deal appears to give Kadima the right to work on modification of the Tal law, which involves exemption of haredi Yeshiva students from military service, and which has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. 

If, as initial reports indicate, Mofaz may become a Minister without Portfolio, which may seem odd since Kadima actually has more seats than Likud; on the other hand, Kadima was expected to lose heavily if elections were held.

How this may affect the threat of military action against Iran, which Mofaz opposes, remains to be seen. It also may lead to a moderation of the government’s policies overall. One interesting issue will be the role of Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu Party, which has been the second largest in the government.

There is some political sense, however, in avoiding elections for now, as both Kadima and Likud might have stood to lose seats; in any event Netanyahu avoids having to campaign this year. But the eleventh-hour deal on the brink of Knesset dissolution came as a surprise, and if it holds — uncertain at this point I suspect — and doesn’t unravel, it will transform the political scene.

If more details emerge tomorrow, I may have more to say,

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The Paradox of Israeli Politics: Sternfeld

April 6th, 2012 Comments off

Lior Sternfeld writes in a guest editorial for Informed Comment

Israel’s center-right Kadima Party has just elected an Iranian-Israeli, Shaul Mofaz, as its leader, in an attempt to position itself to defeat the hard right Likud Party’s Binyamin Netanyahu in the next elections. Mofaz is promising to take up the plight of Israel’s middle class, which is facing high prices and high rents at a time when the super-rich are flourishing. He is a realist on Iran, being an expert on that country’s nuclear program, and agrees more with President Obama’s cautious approach to containing Tehran than with Netanyahu’s conviction that military action should be taken against Iran as soon as possible. Mofaz wants to be prime minister, and he would be a very different kind of leader for Israel than Netanyahu, who is wedded to settlements and war.

Mofaz, a former commando, is hardly a liberal. But his victory inside Kadima does represent a turn toward the center, and it coincided with with some other dramatic, if small and limited developments. An Israeli couple recently launched a massive love-spreading Facebook campaign to defuse tensions between the Israeli and Iranian peoples. The Israeli campaign proclaimed, “we love you- we will never bomb you”, and their Iranian counterparts answered: “we don’t hate you.” It is little enough, but its proponents had a kind of euphoria.

On top of that, two weeks ago couple of thousand protesters gathered in Tel-Aviv to dissent against the hawkish government (namely, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak). Their civic courage echoed around the world. Media outlets worldwide celebrated the fringe phenomenon that revived otherwise dead peaceful hopes.

Last summer, as well, was miraculous in Israeli terms. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets, inspired by the Arab spring. They went to demand social justice and confront the right wing neo-liberal economic policy. It was miraculous because prior to that moment, Israelis seemed to loose their faith in changing their reality and forfeited to cynical politicians before the game has even started. It was miraculous because it provided a glance at the government official priorities, which placed the development of the Jewish settlements in the occupied territories above the development of cities and neglected populations inside Israel. It was miraculous because the public called aloud to prioritize public education, civil rights, social democrat principles, over the militarized discourse. Some even argued that Israel would not be the same any more. What a summer.

These four seemingly unrelated episodes might suggest that the Israeli public has matured. It has grown out of the militarized discourse; it has come to understanding that social justice cannot be achieved while apartheid regime is practiced on behalf of this same public in the Palestinian territories. One could seriously think that the Israeli people will not let their politicians deceive them anymore with false declarations of “security needs” or that “the settlements do not pose an obstacle to peace.”

But no. Regardless of everything that has happened since the summer, Netanyahu and his right wing Likud party still win the opinion polls. The leaders of the protests, the leftists and the doves, were left behind in the morning after. How can one reconcile demands for social justice with voting to a reactionary party? How can one participate in the virtual or actual Iran-Israel love campaign and still support Netanyahu/Barak in approval surveys? Well, the Israeli public can.

After years of manipulation, Israelis have come to believe that these objectives can be separated, and can be isolated to single issue each. They came to believe that social justice, civil rights, and security can be granted to the Jewish citizens of Israel, without including the Palestinians (whether they possessed Israeli citizenship or not). They came to believe that the entire Middle East genuinely wants to eradicate Israel and the Jews and therefore only a strong stance will ensure their existence.

The Israeli public finds it easier to believe to the darkest prophesies on either side. Maybe it is part of the contemporary Jewish condition: they do not believe the Arab leaders when they talk about peace (be it the Arab League peace initiative, or the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders who repeatedly say they will respect the peace accord with Israel). But they take every esoteric threat dead seriously. They do not trust Israeli politicians who promise to strive for peace, but they will vote once and again to politicians they neither like nor trust, who promote fear and warn of regional threats (and exalt some kind of primitive national pride), just because they sound more as though they have their feet on the ground.

These conflicting trends within the Israeli public raise questions about the national mindset. Attempts like the demonstrations that took place in Tel Aviv last summer and last month should not be taken lightly, but neither should one see them as a sign that the mercurial Israeli public has had a lasting change of heart. The jury is out on whether Israeli optimism and dedication to social justice can finally win out over the pessimists and the hawks.


Lior Sternfeld is pursuing a Ph.D. in History at the University of Texas, Austin.

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Mofaz wins Israel opposition vote

March 28th, 2012 Comments off

Israel’s main opposition party, Kadima, has elected the former defence minister and army chief, Shaul Mofaz, as its new leader.
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Shaul Mofaz Beats Tzipi Livni for Kadima Leadership

March 28th, 2012 Comments off

Maybe the whole “Israel Loves Iran” fad isn’t just an Internet meme: Israel’s main opposition party, Kadima (technically the largest party in the Knesset by one seat over Likud), has just elected an Iranian-born leader. Former IDF Chief of Staff and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, born in Tehran (of parents from Isfahan) in 1948, defeated Tzipi Livni for the party leadership in today’s primary.

Shaul Mofaz

Mofaz, who followed Ariel Sharon into Kadima from Likud, had challenged Livni in 2008 but lost; this year he assembled a number of key allies and won a hard-fought race. Although Kadima won more seats than Likud in the 2009 elections, it was unable to form a coalition, while Likud under Binyamin Netanyahu formed the current strong rightist bloc.

A third candidate for the Kadima leadership, former Shin Bet Director Avi Dichter, recently withdrew and threw his support to Mofaz.

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Spying on the Russians? ‘Arrested, questioned, deported but not beaten!’

May 19th, 2011 Comments off
“…Colonel Vadim Leiderman was arrested during a May 12 meeting in a restaurant, in what appeared to be a violation of his diplomatic immunity. He was then questioned for a few hours, released, and subsequently deported…. The unusual incident occurred during an official visit to Russia by the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, led by committee chairman and Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz… The incident wasn’t the first time in which senior Israeli officials, specifically from the defense and intelligence establishment, were arrested under mysterious circumstances in Russia, in breach of their diplomatic immunity. In the early 1990s, Mossad representative Reuven Dinel was arrested in a Moscow subway station after he had purchased satellite images from a firm that was part of the Russian military intelligence…. It should be pointed out that Leiderman, unlike Dinel, was not beaten during his arrest and questioning.”

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US & Israel reach "secret agreements on Jerusalem"… to protect Netanyahu

April 27th, 2010 Comments off

Maariv/ here

Israel and the US have reached secret agreements about construction in Jerusalem. Both sides agreed to leave the agreements between themselves and not make them public, and if they should be leaked nevertheless, deny them vigorously. The purpose is in order not to create difficulties for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the coalition, and particularly in the Likud party.

The agreements indicate that contrary to Israeli boasting, Netanyahu’s answer to Obama regarding Jerusalem was not “No.” It was something in the middle, a little closer to the far end (a freeze) than the close one (continued construction at full tilt). The most accurate translation for this agreement is “Yes, but.” It is possible that Netanyahu has learned something from the bad old days of Shimon Peres, during which he got the nickname “Yes and no.” Now it is Netanyahu’s turn.

The agreements were made in a very long series of meetings and discussions between the parties. Attorney Yitzhak Molcho worked for Netanyahu. Working on the American side was mostly Dan Shapiro, the director of the Middle East department at the National Security Council.

As far as anyone knows, the parties agreed that no construction freeze would be announced. On the contrary, Netanyahu may continue to announce that he did not agree to a freeze. But in reality, Netanyahu agreed to delay the Ramat Shlomo project by at least several years and not to issue any new construction tenders in Jerusalem. He also promised “to do as much as the law allows and use his full authority as prime minister to prevent unnecessary Israeli activity in the Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. These agreements do not include the procedures that are already being carried out, such as, for example, the Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem.

Another agreement between the parties is that if Netanyahu should encounter a particularly severe crisis or heavy pressure, or if these agreements should be leaked, there will be a tendency to let him approve a small number of symbolic construction projects in secret coordination with the Americans so that it will continue to look as though he did not give in.

In the end, the agreement is a good and effective one. The Americans are moving forward with it, and the members of the forum of seven are willing to accept it as well. It is saying no and acting yes. In the current situation, if there are no last-minute surprises, there will soon be an announcement of the resumption of the proximity talks between the parties. The Palestinians will go with it, and the Americans will finally be able to finish the job and check off the first item on their to-do list.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks to ...

They made a big strategic mistake in their insistence on a construction freeze in Jerusalem from the first moment. They paid dearly for it. Now they will try to make up for it, but they will find fairly quickly that the worst of all is still ahead.

Netanyahu is not where they think he is. The reports that the prime minister has offered the Palestinians a state with temporary borders are premature. The plan has existed for a long time. It was created by Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak (and also, separately, by Shaul Mofaz). Just as he did then, Netanyahu has expressed his agreement in secret, but hopes that something will come along to blow up the whole matter, and not move it forward. Prepare for the next crisis.

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