No one is more sensitive to social problems than Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. This week, he voiced harsh criticisms of the government: "The social problem is currently the most difficult and dangerous problem facing the State of Israel ... A sorry reality has been created for which the weaker sectors of society are paying the price."
And Mofaz has been consistent in his uncompromising battle for the weak. In September 2003, during the cabinet meeting on the 2004 budget, he said: "I oppose the economic program because I don't see anything in it that extends a hand to the weak." The doorposts trembled.
Did "harm to the weaker sectors" or "opposition to the economic program" lead Mofaz to consider leaving the government? Don't be silly. Who would defend the weak? It is true that he also waged a stubborn fight to get the defense budget increased, and in fact succeeded in getting it boosted by NIS 1.6 billion - but what's the connection?
This coming Sunday, all government ministries will be obliged to absorb an additional cut in order to finance the addition to the defense budget. The education minister is threatening to cut classroom hours; the health minister fears that elderly people will die; the public security minister warns that crime will increase. But what does any of that have to do with the extra funding that Mofaz received? Let them make do with less, Mofaz thinks to himself - and immediately issues another pronouncement in favor of the poor. In his opinion, there is no connection between the diplomatic-security situation and the poverty and unemployment. As far as he is concerned, the tourists are returning and investors are standing in line, with no connection to the war in the territories, the terror attacks and the lack of a political horizon.
While Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is talking (at least) about evacuating Gaza, Mofaz has put a spanner in the works, in the form of a muddled plan to replace the Gaza settlers with IDF soldiers. Thus the soldiers will defend the nonexistent settlers, the roads and the supply lines - and provide the Palestinians with ample reason to continue the war. For this purpose, sooner or later additional funds will be needed - which will, of course, be granted, in the name of protecting our sons - and this will require additional cuts in education, health and welfare. But Mofaz will immediately issue another statement lamenting the situation of the unemployed.
Olmert. Let us assume that Industry Minister Ehud Olmert's trip to Eastern Europe, accompanied by a large delegation of businessmen, was indeed necessary to promote trade relations with Israel. But why did he need to fly from Romania to Poland (to participate in the festivities for the launch of Rami Ungar's new ship in Gdansk) in the private plane of businessman Moti Zisser? There is a clear conflict of interests between real estate magnate Zisser and the chairman of the Israel Lands Administration - namely, Olmert. It is clear that Zisser needs the ILA for every move he makes. But, as they say, someone with connections doesn't need protekzia.
Olmert is certain that he is always right. Therefore, he has no problem continuing his efforts to destroy the greatest achievement of Israeli consumers: mandatory price labeling. He is also certain that everything is permitted for him. Therefore, he views every criticism as baseless persecution, rather than as criticism of unacceptable behavior that ought to be examined by the attorney general and the state comptroller.
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