Mofaz: I'm Leaving Politics

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz shocked supporters at a Thursday night rally, announcing that he plans to leave the political scene.

Maayana Miskin,

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz shocked supporters at a Thursday night rally, announcing that he plans to leave the political scene. “Today my family and I decided that it's time for a break,” Mofaz told the crowd. “I wish to make decisions regarding my future, to test new courses of action through which I could give to the country and to my family.”

Mofaz said he would not seek a position in the new government or in the Knesset, but would remain a member of Kadima and work on the party's behalf. “I'll do my best for it,” he promised. He was joined during the rally by fellow politicians MK Otniel Schneller and MK Ruhama Avraham, both of whom supported his candidacy in the Kadima primaries.

His announcement came less than 24 hours after he lost a close race for leadership of the Kadima party, losing out to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni by just 431 votes. His lawyers told him to appeal the victory because hundreds of votes from the Bedouin town of Rahat were declared invalid, he said, but he decided not to. “I decided that the good of the country comes before any personal desire, especially when the ship is on stormy waters,” he explained.

While Mofaz accepted Livni's victory, others expressed concern over the entire elections process. Kadima voters alone should not be allowed to choose Israel's next prime minister, said opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu of Likud. “The most fair and democratic thing would be to have new national elections,” he said. Agriculture Minister Shalom Simchon and MK Shelly Yechimovich of Labor called for new elections as well, despite the fact that Labor is expected to lose Knesset seats if national elections were to be held now.

Livni seemed set to ignore calls for national elections on Thursday, and prepared to form a coalition instead. Her first meeting to form a coalition will take place on Thursday night, when she will meet with Shas head Eli Yishai.



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