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Mofaz's office states in response: "Amos Uzani was fired by the minister against the background of a chain of failures and irregularities that were found in Haifa Port under his deficient management. Everything he says is motivated by personal revenge and does not merit a response. Mendi Zaltsman was chosen director general of Haifa Port responsibly and with full public transparency by a search committee headed by the chairman of the board of Haifa Port, engineer Ben Zion Salman, who is a former director general of the Ministry of Transportation."

Existential threat

In a newspaper interview in June of this year, Mofaz said, "All the options are on the table. If there is no choice, and the possibility that will emerge is [either] a nuclear Iran or a military strike before that, Israel's choice is clear." His remarks were reported around the world and sparked the sharpest one-day rise in the price of oil since 1991.A month later, Mofaz stated in a talk he delivered in Washington that Iran was on the brink of a major breakthrough in its nuclear program and that this was an intolerable situation. Again the price of oil jumped. Mofaz was widely criticized, in Israel and abroad. The approach of the Israeli leadership is that Israel should not be the spearhead of international criticism of Iran?s nuclear project, and that it is preferable not to talk about the subject publicly. Mofaz, a former chief of staff and defense minister, should be more aware of this than almost anyone else.

"Mofaz is not prone to slips of the tongue," says one of his former supporters. "He prepares for every interview. I think this is what he believes and therefore it is what he said. It was not a chance thing." The same conclusion can be reached from a perusal of the response on Mofaz's behalf: "The Iranian threat is an existential threat to Israel, and no one should make light of it. Minister Mofaz is in charge of the strategic dialogue with the United States, at the center of which is the Iranian issue, and he has dealt with the subject in depth for the past 15 years in the various positions he has held. The minister believes that Israel?s security is more important than this or that fluctuation in the price of oil."

But his supporters are irritated by the repeated remarks about Iran. "He believes what he says, but I don't see the rationale," a central activist says. "At last he gathered the courage to say something, so he is attacked for it, Nissan Khakshouri says, outraged."