Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Knesset committee: Mofaz lied


Members of the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee blasted Shaul Mofaz in a meeting Tuesday over what they said was false information provided by the defense minister regarding the border crossings agreement with the Palestinians.

Committee members said they were shocked to learn, during Tuesday's meeting, that the Rafah crossings agreement was never actually signed – as Mofaz reportedly claimed - and a draft of the deal has not yet been approved by the Americans and the Palestinians.

"The defense minister lied and deceived the public and the Knesset by reporting that the agreement has already been signed," Committee Chairman Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said.

Steinitz slammed Mofaz for "taking advantage of his position as defense minister for political purposes, even at the price of not telling the truth to the Committee."

The Committee chairman charged this was the most severe incident he encountered throughout his three years at the poast.

"This is a case of false pretense, since the defense minister was asked to report of the agreement, but did not take the trouble to inform the Committee the deal was not signed, and that at the moment there is only a controversial draft," Steinitz claimed.

"In some democracies, this would be considered a criminal felony," he added.

'Mofaz must resign'

Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu also addressed the subject and said politicians have an obligation to tell the truth when appearing before the Committee, let alone the public.

"I warned that the crossings agreement is full of holes, and now it's not even clear that there is an agreement to begin with," he added.

Other members of the Committee were also quick to blast Mofaz.

"A defense minister who lies must resign his post," MK Ran Cohen (Meretz) said, while former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer (Labor) said it turns out Mofaz did not provide the Committee with a "the truthful version."

"Mofaz should be summoned to the Committee in order for him to clarify what has happened. We need to ask the defense minister why he deceived us," Ben-Eliezer said.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, responding to the accusations said: "I'm very sorry that the Committee decided to attack me politically. The issue of the Rafah border crossing has been made very clear, and defense issues should not be used for political attacks."