PROFILE / Kadima Leader-elect, Shaul Mofaz

Ophir Bar-Zohar
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Ophir Bar-Zohar

Lieutenant-General (res.) Shaul Mofaz, born in Iran in 1948 and later migrated to Israel, is married with four children.

Aged 64, Mofaz is a Kadima Knesset Member and the chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Mofaz left his post as chief of the Israel Defense Force after a long military career, during which he served as the head of the Paratroop Brigade, Commanding Officer of IDF forces in Judea and Samaria, GOC. Southern Command and Chief of Planning Branch of the General Staff.

Contender for Kadima leadership Shaul Mofaz in March 2012.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik

A few months after his dismissal from the IDF, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appointed Mofaz as Minister of Security in 2002, following the collapse of Israel's unity government at the time. Mofaz joined the Likud party and ran in the primaries, but did not get into the Knesset because of the cooling-off period imposed on senior military figures. Mofaz continued to serve as Defense Minister in the next Sharon government between 2003 and 2006, a period that also saw the disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

In 2006 Sharon quit Likud and formed the Kadima party, inviting Mofaz to join him. Mofaz refused, saying that "one does not leave his home," despite being offered the number two position in the party. He warned against Sharon joining a number of left-wingers supporting the Oslo Accords and a return to the 1967 lines. He also said that these people might drag Sharon to "dangerous" places in political and security-related terms.

However, a few days later, Mofaz changed his mind and joined Kadima, after polls predicted he was likely to lose the race to Likud's leadership. He then claimed Likud had become an extreme-right party. Mofaz was placed in the eighth place on Kadima's list, and after the government was formed, he was appointed to Transportation Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

In 2008, Mofaz ran for the Kadima leadership against Tzipi Livni, and despite polls predicting her overwhelming victory, she ended up only winning by a slim margin of 431 votes.

Current estimations project that Mofaz has a better chance of winning the Kadima primaries this time round, despite it being a close race. Mofaz is supported by Knesset members Meir Sheetrit, Ruhama Avraham Balila, Avi Dichter, Zeev Bielski, Yaakov Edri, Ronit Tirosh, Yohanan Plesner, Shai Hermesh, Otniel Schneller, Israel Hasson, Yulia Shamalov Berkovich and Avraham Duan. Mofaz expressed confidence throughout the campaign and his election slogan promises his election to prime minister.

Shortly before Livni's announcement of the date of the primaries, Mofaz declared that "MK Livni has finished her role as chairwoman. Her conduct was weak, fumbling and lacking leadership." Further, he said, "I will restore Kadima to its natural place as a political alternative. The mission to replace Netanyahu began today and calls for all Kadima members and supporters, and all voters of Israel, to join me in that mission for the sake of your future, and for all citizens of the country."

At the beginning of the week, Mofaz said the social protests of the summer of 2011 will return and that he intends on being at its head "the day I become prime minister. And I will [become prime minister]."

Mofaz ultimately won the Kadima primary on Tuesday, March 27, 2012.