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Shaul Mofaz

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Shaul Mofaz

Shaul Mofaz
Date of birth (1948-11-04) 4 November 1948
Place of birth Tehran, Iran
Year of aliyah 1957
Knessets 17th, 18th, 19th
Faction represented in Knesset
2006– Kadima
Ministerial roles
2002–2006 Minister of Defense
2006–2009 Deputy Prime Minister
2006–2009 Minister of Transportation
2012 Vice Prime Minister
2012 Minister without Portfolio
Other roles
1998–2002 Chief of Staff of the IDF
2012 Leader of the Opposition
2012–2013 Leader of the Opposition

Lt. General Shaul Mofaz (Hebrew: שאול מופז‎, born 4 November 1948) (Persian:شهرام مفضض‌کار, Shahrām Mofazzazkār) is an Israeli politician. Following his victory against Tzipi Livni in the Kadima primaries in March 2012, he served as Leader of the Opposition in the Knesset until general elections were held in January 2013. During this time, however, there was a 70-day period from May to July 2012 in which he formed a unity government with the Netanyahu-led coalition, and served as Acting Prime Minister, Vice Prime Minister and Minister without portfolio.

Mofaz joined the Israel Defense Forces in 1966 and served in the Paratroopers Brigade. He fought in the Six-Day War, Yom Kippur War, 1982 Lebanon War, and Operation Entebbe with the paratroopers and Sayeret Matkal, an elite special forces unit.

Mofaz became the 16th IDF's Chief of the General Staff, and served as Israel's Minister of Defense, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transportation and Road Safety. As Chairman of the Kadima Party, he leads the smallest party by seats in the current Knesset.[1]


Early life and military career

His birth name is Shahrām Mofazzazkār. He was born in Tehran (although his parents came from Isfahan), Mofaz immigrated to Israel with his parents in 1957. Upon graduating from high school he joined the Israel Defense Forces in 1966 and served in the Paratroopers Brigade. He served in the Six-Day War, Yom Kippur War, 1982 Lebanon War, and Operation Entebbe with the paratroopers and Sayeret Matkal, an elite special forces unit.

The Chief of Staff Gen. Shaul Mofaz (right foreground) meets with U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz (left), and other senior U.S. Department of Defense officials in the Pentagon

Mofaz was then appointed an infantry brigade commander for the 1982 Lebanon War. Afterwards he attended the US Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico, Virginia, USA. On his return he was briefly appointed commander of the Officers School, before returning to active service as commander of the Paratroop Brigade in 1986.

Mofaz served in a series of senior military posts, having been promoted to the rank of Brigadier General (1988). In 1993 he was made commander of the IDF forces in the West Bank. In 1994, he was promoted to Major General, commanding the Southern Corps. His rapid rise continued; in 1997 Mofaz was appointed Deputy Chief of the General Staff and in 1998 he was appointed Chief of the General Staff.

His term of Chief of Staff was noted for financial and structural reforms of the Israeli Army. But the most significant event in his tenure was the eruption of the Second Intifada in September, 2000. The tough tactics undertaken by Mofaz drew widespread concern from the international community but were broadly supported by the Israeli public. Controversy erupted over the offensive in Jenin, intermittent raids in the Gaza Strip, and the continued isolation of Yasser Arafat.

Mofaz foresaw the wave of violence coming early as 1999 and prepared the IDF for intense guerrilla warfare in the territories. He fortified posts at the Gaza Strip and kept Israel Defense Forces casualties low. However, he drew criticism from both Israeli and international human rights monitoring groups because of the methods he had undertaken, including using armored bulldozers to demolish 2,500 Palestinian civilian homes, displacing thousands, in order to create a security "buffer zone" along the Rafah border.[2][3]

Political career

Following a government crisis in 2002, Shaul Mofaz was controversially appointed Defense Minister by Ariel Sharon.[4] Although he supported an agreement with the Palestinians, he was willing to make no compromise in the war against militant groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Tanzim, and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

The fact that he had only recently left his position as IDF Chief of Staff prevented him from participating in the 2003 election (by which time Mofaz had joined Sharon's Likud). Nevertheless, Sharon reappointed him as Defense Minister in the new government.

On 21 November 2005, Mofaz rejected Sharon's invitation to join his new party, Kadima, and instead announced his candidacy for the leadership of Likud. But, on 11 December 2005, one day after he promised he would never leave the Likud,[5] he withdrew from both the leadership race and the Likud to join Kadima.

Following the elections in late March 2006, Mofaz was moved from the position of Defense Minister and received the Transport ministry in the new Cabinet installed on 4 May 2006.[6]

In 2008, with Israel's then prime minister, Ehud Olmert, being pressured to resign due to corruption charges, Mofaz announced that he would run for the leadership of the Kadima party.

On 5 August 2008, Mofaz officially entered the race to be leader of Kadima. That same day he received a blessing by Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. On 17 September 2008, he lost the Kadima party election, losing to Tzipi Livni for the spot of the Prime Minister and leader of Kadima. Livni's narrow margin of 431 votes was 43.1% to Shaul Mofaz's 42.0%, a huge difference from the 10 to 12-point exit polls margins. She said the "national responsibility (bestowed) by the public brings me to approach this job with great reverence".[7][8] Mofaz accepted the Kadima primary's result, despite his lawyer, Yehuda Weinstein's appeal advice, and telephoned Livni congratulating her. Livni got 16,936 votes, with 16,505 votes, for Mofaz. Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit had 6.5% and 8.5% respectively.

Placed second on the Kadima list, Mofaz retained his seat in the 2009 elections, but lost his cabinet position after Likud formed the government.

On 27 March 2012, Shaul Mofaz won the Kadima party leadership primaries by a landslide, defeating party chairwoman Tzipi Livni.[9] Mofaz became Vice Prime Minister as part of a deal reached for a government of national unity with Binyamin Netanyahu.[10] Mofaz said during the Kadima primaries that he would not join a government led by Netanyahu.[11]

Mofaz left over Netanyahu's indecision over a draft reform law and warned that the prime minister was trying to patch together a majority for a vote to plunge the region into war.[12]

In 2013 Kadima, just 4 years prior the ruling party, received 2% of the votes, barely passing to the Knesset.

In popular culture

A fictionalized version of Mofaz appeared in the 2008 drama film Lemon Tree.[13]

See also


  1. ^ New Israel Partner Offers Moderate Voice on Iran 8 May 2012
  2. ^ "Demolition for alleged military purposes". B'tselem. 1 January 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  3. ^ "Razing Rafah: Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip". Human RIghts Watch. 18 October 2004. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Shaul Mofaz Biography at Jewish Virtual Library
  5. ^ Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu: Israel’s Knesset Scorecard: Who’s on First Arutz 7, 7/23/2012.
  6. ^ Shaul Mofaz at the Institute for Middle East Understanding
  7. ^, Livni declared winner of Kadima election. (18 September 2008). Retrieved on 9 September 2011.
  8. ^, Livni claims victory in Israel poll
  9. ^ Ophir Bar-Zohar; Jonathan Lis; Natasha Mozgovaya (28 March 2012). "Shaul Mofaz beats Tzipi Livni in Kadima leadership primaries". Haaretz. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  10. ^ "Mofaz sworn in as minister, deputy PM". Ynetnews. 9 May 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  11. ^ Verter, Yossi (30 March 2012). "After Livni, it's Mofaz's turn at the helm of Kadima". Haaretz. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  12. ^ Heller, Jeffrey. "Netanyahu's ex-deputy warns against attacking Iran." Reuters, 24 July 2012.
  13. ^ LEMON TREE: Q&A with Eran Riklis. By Andre Soares. Alternative Film Guide. Published 1 May 2009.

External links

  • Shaul Mofaz on the Knesset website
Military offices
Preceded by
Amnon Lipkin-Shahak
Chief of Staff of Israel
Succeeded by
Moshe Ya'alon
Political offices
Preceded by
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer
Defense Minister of Israel
Succeeded by
Amir Peretz
Preceded by
Meir Sheetrit
Transportation Minister of Israel
Succeeded by
Yisrael Katz
Preceded by
Shelly Yachimovich
Opposition Leader of Israel
Succeeded by
Shelly Yachimovich
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