Shaul Mofaz


Shaul Mofaz

MKs


Date of birth = November 4, 1948
Place of birth Tehran,Iran
Year of Aliyah = 1957
Date of death =
Knesset(s) = 17th (current)
Party = Kadima
Former parties = Likud*
Gov't roles = Deputy Prime Minister
Minister of Transportation
Minister of Defense*
*Whilst outside the Knesset

Audio|He-Shaul_Mofaz.ogg|Shaul Mofaz ( _he. שאול מופז, born November 4,1948 in Tehran, Iran) is the current Israeli Minister of Transportation and a Deputy Prime Minister, and a former Minister of Defense. Previously he was the 16th Chief of the General Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces, and was the second Israeli of a Mizrahi background to achieve that post.

On September 17, 2008, Mofaz placed second in a close primary election for leadership of the Kadima party.

Mofaz has served under four different Israeli Prime Ministers, having been appointed as Chief of Staff by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (1996-1999) in 1998, then served under Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), and was then appointed as Minister of Defense in 2002 by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (2001-2006), and presently serves under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Biography

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 Paratroop Brigade. He participated 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 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. 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.

Shaul 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. 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 due to advance MOUT tactics and intelligent use of bulldozers he managed to keep Israel Defense Forces casualties low. However, he drew criticism from leftist groups because of the methods he had undertaken (such as house demolitions). According to a book by two Israeli journalists, Mofaz gave orders to kill 70 Palestinian militants per day when he was head of the military during the second intifada. [ [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/candidate-who-wants-olmerts-job-once-sought-deaths-of-70-palestinians-a-day-882628.html] ]

Political career

Following a government crisis in 2002, Shaul Mofaz was controversially appointed Defense Minister by Ariel Sharon. Although he supported an agreement with the Palestinians, he was determined to "liquidate" Arafat and was willing to make no compromise in the war against militant groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad 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 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 May 4, 2006.

In 2008, with Israel's current 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 September 17, 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". [ [http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/09/18/2368042.htm?section=justin abc.net.au, Livni declared winner of Kadima election] ] [ [http://ukpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5h7aMMRdDcFu7Wyb9IYgLLO6EbS_w ukpress.google.com, Livni claims victory in Israel poll] ] 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. [ [http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-09/18/content_10074807.htm xinhuanet.com, Livni's major rival Mofaz accepts Kadima primary's result] ] Later that day, Mofaz announced that he had decided to take a break from political life, and to find other means in which he could support Israel from outside the political arena. [ [http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3598934,00.html] ]

ee also

* List of Israel's Chiefs of the General Staff
* Iran-Israel relations

Notes

External links

* [http://www.knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/mk_eng.asp?mk_individual_id_t=720 Shaul Mofaz on the Knesset website (in English)]
* [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/mofaz.html Shaul Mofaz Biography at Jewish Virtual Library]
* [http://shaul-mofaz.co.il Shaul Mofaz fan blog]
* [http://imeu.net/news/article0014270.shtml Shaul Mofaz at the Institute for Middle East Understanding]


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