The split in Israel’s ruling coalition which saw the Kadima Party leave government was sought after by the Prime Minister, it has been disclosed. Benjamin Netanyahu wanted to be able to guarantee a majority in the “forum of eight ministers” which support an attack on Iran, media reports claimed on Tuesday.
Netanyahu made his move once he knew that five members of the ‘forum of eight ministers’, including Kadima’s Shaul Mofaz, are against a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Media sources claim that Netanyahu’s plan to distribute positions among Knesset members so that they will defect from Kadima is intended to attract Tzachi Hanegbi to the ‘forum of eight ministers’ as a Minister of the Interior. This way, the balance of power will change in favour of Netanyahu and his desire to attack Iran.
In his speech to the Knesset on Monday, Mofaz hinted at the Iranian issue when he said that he refuses to take part in an attack that will endanger the lives of Israeli soldiers. “Kadima will not set out on operational adventures that will endanger the future of our young women and young men and the future of the citizens of Israel in the State of Israel,” Mofaz told MKs.
Tzachi Hanegbi, meanwhile, denied claims that his defection from Kadima back to the Likud Party is linked to the Iran issue. “The reason we tried to prevent the dissolution of the unity government has nothing to do with Iran, Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, but with the need to pass a new IDF Draft Law and to allow the government to pass the state budget,” he said. “It is a shame that Mofaz chose to give hints which, in my opinion, jeopardize state security.”
Defending his decision to re-join Likud, Hanegbi said: “This year will be a fateful one, and it will require a stable government that is capable of making decisions. Even a legitimate decision to launch an operation in Iran requires a stable, broad government. It’s a shame that the manoeuvres Kadima dragged us into are preventing us from reaching this point.”
In a speech behind closed doors, Mofaz hinted at the need to form a committee to investigate Netanyahu’s moves. The military correspondent of Israeli Channel 10 television quoted Mofaz last Thursday as saying: “When the real reasons behind Netanyahu’s corrupted move become clear, investigations on these things will overrun the State Comptroller.”
The military correspondent claimed that there is a conflict inside the ‘forum of eight’ regarding what would be an appropriate decision over Iran. Israel’s self-imposed deadline to take this decision is September or October.
When asked why he sought a split with Kadima, Netanyahu said: “There are some issues of a public interest and the public will know about their importance in the near future.”