As Netanyahu meets Obama, Israel ex-general offers Hamas talks
Former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, now leader of Israel's opposition party, unveiled a new peace plan Sunday – and aspirations of replacing Netanyahu.
Shaul Mofaz, a leading opposition politician in Israel whose former posts include both army chief of staff and defense minister, said Sunday he has a plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace – and he's willing to talk to Hamas to secure it.Skip to next paragraph
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"I will also speak with the devil, if it will bring peace to the state of Israel," Mofaz reiterated Monday during a visit to Sderot, which has often been the target of rocket attacks from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. "And if Hamas is chosen in elections to head the Palestinian Authority ... I am ready to speak with them."
But the timing of Mr. Mofaz's announcement, in which he boldly stated that he hopes to carry out his vision as prime minister, aroused skepticism among both Israelis and Palestinians that his intent had more to do with promoting himself than the peace process. Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Tzipi Livni, Mofaz's rival during party primaries last year, were in the US.
"Mofaz's declaration aims at using the Palestinian dispute for his own purposes," says Salah Al Bardawel, the spokesman of the Hamas parliamentary bloc.
Israeli analysts, meanwhile, cast Mofaz's plan more as a domestic challenge than a diplomatic offering.
"Shaul Mofaz yesterday joined the growing number of Israeli politicians, both right and left, who have presented their own peace plans," wrote Yossi Verter in the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper. "There is no lack of plans; the peace shelf is groaning under their weight. Only peace itself remains elusive." Mofaz's plan, he writes, "is mostly about domestic politics."
Hamas rejects Mofaz's proposal
Mofaz holds the No. 2 slot in Kadima – the centrist opposition party headed by Ms. Livni that won the highest number of votes in February's election but did not have enough parliamentary support to form a government.