Shaul Mofaz (photo, from haaretz.com), Israel’s transportation minister, is one of the frontrunners for Ehud Olmert’s job and he has officially launched his campaign to replace the Israeli prime minister, who announced last week that he would step down when his Kadima party would have chosen a successor.
In a radio interview on Tuesday, a day after his official campaign for the party leadership started, Mr Mofaz denounced Mr Olmert’s native Iran as “the root of all evil”.
Iran’s nuclear programme would pose “a threat to Israel’s existence”, he said in an interview on Israel radio, urging the Western powers to impose stiffer sanctions on Tehran, in order to make the country stop its programme.
But though Mr Mofaz, a deputy prime minister, is highly ranked in the contest to lead the Kadima party, opinion polls show that he trails Tzipi Livni (photo), the country’s foreign minister.
The party leadership election is to take place next month.
Althouth he supports diplomacy to resolve the standoff with Tehran, in June, Mr Mofaz said that unless a deal was reached, an Israeli attack in order to halt Iran’s nuclear project may be “unavoidable”.
While Iran keeps on saying that its nuclear development is for civilian purposes only, to produce energy, Israel is widely believed to have assembled the only nuclear arsenal in the region. According to experts it comprises as many as 200 warheads.
But under a so-called “strategic ambiguity” policy, Israel does not discuss its nuclear capabilities.