Kadima Chairman MK Shaul Mofaz gets flak from Right and his own party for interview given to The New York Times • Kadima MK Schneller: He who goes back to the warm embrace of the Left…cannot be prime minister.
In a New York Times profile on Friday, new Kadima Chairman and opposition leader MK Shaul Mofaz outlined what he believes should be Israel’s new public agenda.
In the article entitled “Defying an Image With a Tilt to the Left,” Mofaz is quoted as saying that while he believes Israel should keep its current settlement blocs, the Palestinians should get 100 percent of their territorial demands met via land swaps. He claimed that security and border issues could be settled through negotiations within a year.
Then, according to Mofaz, Israel could divest its resources from the settlements and into social issues. “I have four children, two of them married, and three grandchildren. My kids are among the young couples that can’t make ends meet. They work hard and can’t finish the month. In Israel of 2012, only part of the population enjoys the fruit of the country’s economic growth. The rich get richer and the poor poorer.”
The U.S. is Israel’s greatest strategic asset, according to Mofaz. He also believes that current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks too much on the current Iranian issue, noting however that should the use of force become necessary “God forbid the American president decides not to attack.” If Netanyahu has to attack on his own, Mofaz said he would support him. But he does not believe that will happen.
Members of Israel’s Right were harshly critical of the interview. “Kadima headed by Mofaz is the same old party under a different guise,” said MK Ofir Akunis, chairman of the Likud’s rapid response team. “It is a leftist party willing to retreat and fold before every Palestinian demand. When Mr. Mofaz says that 100 percent of the Palestinian demands should be met, he is taking the same stance as his Kadima predecessor. A non-demilitarized Palestinian state based on 1967 lines and partitioning Jerusalem. If that’s how he intends to open negotiations, it is better not to think about how they would end.”
The chairman of the Knesset’s Economic Affairs Committee MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud) also spoke out against what he sarcastically described as Mofaz’s “generosity.”
“Since MK Mofaz was elected to lead the fifth-largest party according to polls, he has not stopped handing out gifts. And now he is handing out parts of Israel as a gift to the Palestinians, who refuse to negotiate with us.”
“Anyone who is willing to give the Palestinians 100 percent of their territorial demands, while they simultaneously use force against tens of thousands of Israelis – is not worthy of being prime minister of Israel. But no need to worry, with a platform like that he will never be elected.” said Yesha Council [the council of the Jewish communities of Judea, Samaria and Gaza] Chairman Danny Dayan.
Mofaz sustained criticism from his own camp as well. “He who returns to the warm bosom of the Left, where Tzipi Livni was, is disconnected from the majority of the public and cannot be prime minister. The real test is to see if Mofaz wants to capture the sane center-right or the Left,” said MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima).
By Yoni Hirsch and Mati Tuchfeld