Photo: AFP
Shalom 's team has already embarked in heavy campaigning
Photo: AFP

Shalom: I can move nation forward

In Ynet exclusive interview, foreign minister comments on his campaign for Likud party leadership, answers claims he lacks charisma. 'Modesty is not an unpleasant trait. The country needs a leader, not a showoff,' he says

Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, who announced his candidacy for Likud party leadership Sunday, speaks to Ynet in an exclusive interview.


Since making his decision, Shalom has embarked on a large-scale campaign to win over Likud Central Committee members around the country, while his political staff organizes yet another gathering or conference, in preparation for primaries on December 19.


Your fellow Likud colleagues claim you are blessed with many superior traits, however, charisma is not one of them.


"I don't agree with this. My unequivocal answer is that I can move an entire country forward; modesty is not an unpleasant trait. If only all politicians would adopt this characteristic. I never concerned myself with standing out, perhaps like others wish to do. The country needs someone to lead it, not a showoff."


"I believe that today I am the only real answer in saving the Likud. There are many good candidates, but I believe that I can attain the highest number of seats for the Likud. I have experience, four academic degrees and have held senior positions in three ministries."


Shalom with Abbas and Annan (Photo: Shai Milner)


You were finance minister and are now deputy prime minister, where were you all this time? You voted in favor of the 2005 budget and Israel's 1.5 million poor and 250,000 unemployed are not a new phenomena.


"When I served as finance minister Israel was going through one of its most difficult times - 20,000 terror attacks, 140 killed a month, I had to transfer NIS 7 billion (about USD 1.5 billion) for the two Defense Shield operations, September 11 and the NASDAQ fell three times."


"During this time we were in a coalition with Shas and the Labor party. Despite all of this, I did things that had never been done before, such as implementing stock market tax."


During your speech at the press conference when you announced your candidacy for party leadership, you emphasized that "recent economic policies cannot be allowed to continue." But as deputy prime minister, you voted in favor of the budget including the cutbacks that you now speak out against.


"It's true that I was deputy prime minister, but I cannot do more when in addition I am also responsible for the Foreign Ministry. I can speak out against the cutbacks and I have done so, but eventually the government makes the decisions."


"I believe the policy was not correct, as it harms only the weak. Today I can offer hope, equal opportunities…I know how difficult it is for people in Beer Sheva to succeed; I've experienced this myself. That is why I will pave the way for them. I believe I can provide hope and I intend to create a social revolution."


If you were prime minister, would you strive for an immediate agreement with the Palestinians?


"No, not at all. If we sign an agreement now, we would destroy everything. It could blow up in our faces. The gaps between us and the Palestinians are too large and pertain to many diverse issues such as Jerusalem, defining borders, settlements and the refugee issue. The process must be gradual - we can talk and close the gaps only if there is no terror."


Do you trust PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas?


"I met him last week at a dinner with the Tunisian president. I told him, 'Your declarations may be good, but if they are not supported by actions it will not help.' I told him that Hamas would eventually object to his leadership of the Palestinian Authority. At present, he is not doing what is needed."


פרסום ראשון: 11.24.05, 00:28
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