Mofaz talks social justice in first speech atop opposition (JERUSALEM POST) By LAHAV HARKOV 04/03/12)
JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-Top
Newly-elected Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz focused on social issues in
his first speech to the Knesset as head of the opposition, leading
Likud MKs to challenge his record and accuse him of hypocrisy.
In both a Kadima faction meeting – the first open to the press in
months – as well as his speech to the plenum, Mofaz called to lower
taxes on gas, water and electricity.
“This government takes so much and gives so little,” he said. “The
current cost of living is crushing the young and middle class.”
The opposition leader’s speech was peppered with interruptions from
Likud MKs Ofir Akunis and Danny Danon, with Akunis asking Mofaz, “How
many social bills have you passed?”
The Kadima leader said Israel had the potential to be a “natural gas
superpower” but had yet to build the proper pipelines. Should it do
so, Israel would be less reliant on oil, thus lowering energy prices.
In addition, he stated, using natural gas would start a new “blue-and-
white industry” and create jobs.
Mofaz explained that he planned to propose an alternative budget for
2013 that would respond to the demands of last summer’s social
“Hundreds of thousands of citizens took to the streets last summer,
and they have not given up on the dream of creating a new Israel,”
the opposition leader stated. “We will back up the protests with
actions. There will surely be more demonstrations this summer.”
According to Mofaz, the government has made life more difficult for
citizens, which is indicative of failure.
People work hard but cannot reach a reasonable standard of living, he
said, describing a new class of “working poor.”
“We will not accept empty promises,” he declared. “We will bring new
social justice, equality in the burden and a new social contract.”
Danon interrupted him, calling out “You do not keep your promises!”
The Likud MK read aloud a letter Mofaz wrote to Likud members in 2006
that said he would never leave the party. Two days after sending the
letter, Mofaz defected to Kadima.
The new opposition leader concluded his speech by putting on a kippa
and reading from Psalms.
A rebuttal was given by Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who began by
congratulating Mofaz. He then proceeded to dissect and criticize his
“Mofaz ruined the celebrations by attacking the government,” Sa’ar
said. “You are repeating the mistakes of your predecessor [Tzipi
Livni] – she was not constructive.
If you follow her path, you will end up where she is.”
In reference to Mofaz’s embrace of social issues, Sa’ar explained
that for decades there were two sides in Israeli economic debate:
Socialist and capitalist. Now, he said, there’s a third category,
the “hitchhiker.” Kadima, Sa’ar explained, is hitching a ride on
“What is your social record? You were not born yesterday!” he said to
“Your social influence in this Knesset is zero, nothing, not one law.”
Sa’ar also cited Mofaz’s experience as transportation minister,
adding that he had made major cuts and did not increase trains to the
The education minister also called Mofaz’s demands to lower taxes
irresponsible, explaining that other countries were making huge cuts
in the wake of an international recession, and that Israel could not
afford to be reckless.
In conclusion, Sa’ar called Kadima a “caricature of an opposition and
a caricature of a political party.” (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post
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