JERUSALEM, Israel -- Just one day after losing a razor-thin contest to succeed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as Kadima party leader, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz shocked Israel's political establishment by announcing that he will quit and take a "time out" from political life.
Mofaz, a former defense minister, was a key figure in communicating with the United States on policies involving Iran's nuclear program. His decision to step down comes as a blow to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the new Kadima party leader, who is trying to form a governing coalition after Olmert announced he would resign in the wake of corruption charges.
"I want to consider my future and different ways that I can contribute to Israeli society, the state and my family," Mofaz told supporters Thursday evening. "I will remain a Kadima member and do everything in my power for the party."
Close associates of Mofaz told The Jerusalem Post that he believes the election was stolen from him by the media and the party establishment. Reports of exit polls on television trumpeted a sweeping Livni victory, but in the end she won by only 431 votes, a one-percent margin of victory. Aides to Mofaz urged him to contest the results, but he refused.
Source: The Jerusalem Post