Mofaz to seek meeting with Obama (JERUSALEM POST) By GIL HOFFMAN 04/05/12)
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Opposition leader Shaul Mofaz intends to take seriously Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s challenge on foreign policy issues and
build his international credentials ahead of the next election,
sources close to the Kadima head said Wednesday night.
Netanyahu said in a press conference Tuesday that Israel needs a
leader that is able to hold his weight in the international arena.
Mofaz’s associates said that criticism could apply to Labor leader
Shelly Yacimovich, who called herself a candidate for prime minister
this week. But they said Netanyahu’s attack could not have been
directed at Mofaz, who has diplomatic experience as defense minister
and later as the minister in charge of the strategic dialogue with
the United States on Iran. They shunned comparisons with New Jersey
Governor Chris Christie, who came to Israel this week to build his
foreign policy credentials.
“The key posts Mofaz has held in his career give him a lot to say on
foreign policy issues,” a source close to him said. “He believes he
will be the next prime minister, so it is important that he meet
world leaders and get his views out there.”
To that end, Mofaz is seeking a meeting with US President Barack
Obama. He also wants to travel to Ankara to meet with Turkish
leaders. According to protocol, as the opposition leader, he will
meet with foreign dignitaries who visit Israel.
Mofaz has been a staunch defender of Obama’s policies on Israel. His
associates said Mofaz believes the Obama administration’s
contributions to Israel are above and beyond what an American
president needs to do.
But they said he would be a statesman-like opposition leader, unlike
his predecessor Tzipi Livni, who they said crossed traditional red
lines in criticizing the prime minister abroad.
“Shaul has a lot of criticism for Netanyahu’s handling of the
relationship with the US,” a Mofaz associate said. “When he goes
abroad, he will not besmirch [Netanyahu], but he will show that there
is an opposition now in Israel and it has a different point of view
than the government.”
Mofaz has built up a strong relationship with US Ambassador to Israel
Dan Shapiro, who testified before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and
Defense Committee at Mofaz’s invitation.
Yacimovich is also building up her international credentials, but at
a different pace and volume. Since her election as Labor leader in
September, she has not left Israel, but she has met many ambassadors
and her associates said she is planning a trip abroad in a few months
to meet with leaders of other social-democratic parties.
Sources close to Yacimovich downplayed the importance of her building
up an international resume. They said she would continue to defer on
foreign policy issues to those with more experience internationally
such as MK Isaac Herzog, Labor’s de facto foreign minister.
“Obama got elected without experience,” a Labor source said. “She
doesn’t think [going abroad] will bring her votes. It would deviate
from her message, which is socioeconomic and very important.” (© 1995-
2011, The Jerusalem Post 04/05/12)
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