Opposition leader seeks meeting on Iran

Tue, Aug 21, 2012, 01:00

ISRAELI OPPOSITION leader Shaul Mofaz has demanded an urgent meeting with prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu to discuss the government’s plans regarding an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

“I ask that you convene this meeting without delay. On the agenda: your intention to lead this country to war,” Mr Mofaz wrote to Mr Netanyahu.

Mr Mofaz, who pulled his centrist Kadima party out of the government just over a month ago, wrote in a letter to Mr Netanyahu that there had been “total anarchy in the public discourse on the most intimate defence topic, which has become common practice for you and your government”.

The opposition leader wrote that the motives behind the “anarchy” are still unclear but he was sure that they were not for the good of the country and hurt its security interests.

An Israeli prime minister is legally obliged to summon the opposition leader for a briefing at least once every month but a formal and public request by the opposition leader to discuss a certain topic is unprecedented.

The move follows a highly charged public debate in Israel over the last few weeks over the merits of a unilateral strike in order to stop, or at least delay, Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb.

Mr Netanyahu and defence minister Ehud Barak have made clear their determination to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive but many Israeli politicians, including President Shimon Peres, and security officials, both active and retired, have come out against a unilateral strike in the coming months.

Mr Mofaz raised doubts in his letter over whether military action would be effective in stopping the Iranian nuclear threat.

He argued that such an attack would be limited, lack symmetry in the loss of life on each side, damage the home front and undermine Israel’s international standing, concluding that an Israeli strike “would be immoral and illogical under the current circumstances”.

He also expressed concern about the erosion of the government’s relationship with the US, which he said raised questions over Mr Netanyahu’s judgment.

“What is the real goal behind widening the gap between us and the US? What are the diplomatic, economic and operational alternatives, when faced with the lack of trust between your government and the American administration?” Mr Mofaz wrote.

Labour party leader Shelly Yachimovich, who was replaced as opposition leader by Mr Mofaz last month, accused him of acting irresponsibly over a sensitive issue.