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Shaul Mofaz

(1948 - )

Shaul Mofaz is an Israeli politician, former Minister of Defense and former IDF Chief of Staff. He is currently the head of Israel's Kadima political party.

Mofaz (born November 4, 1948) was born in Tehran, Iran and immigrated to Israel in 1957 with his parents. A career soldier in the Israel Defense Forces and a politician in Israel's Knesset for the past decade, Mofaz has played a very influential role in Israeli politics and society for many years.

Drafted into the Paratroopers Brigade of the IDF infantry corps in 1966, Mofaz served in the 1967 Six-Day War and was quickly promoted to fill various command positions over the next decade. During the 1982 War in Lebanon, Mofaz served as a battalion commander in the paratroopers and in 1984 he left Israel to attend the Command and Staff College of the United States Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia.  Upon completing the course he returned to Israel where he briefly served as commander of the IDF Officers' School before returning to active service in 1986 as the Paratrooper Brigade commander. He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General in 1988 and held a senior position in the Ground Corps Command from 1988 to 1990.

From 1990 to 1992, Mofaz commanded the Galillee Formation and following that he commanded IDF forces in the West Bank. In 1994, Mofaz was promoted to Major-General, and for the next two years he served as the GOC Southern Command. From 1996 to 1997, Mofaz was Chief of the Planning Branch of the IDF General Staff and Deputy Chief of General Staff. In 1998, he became the IDF's sixteenth Chief of Staff.

In November 2002, then-prime minister Ariel Sharon appointed Mofaz to be Israel's Minister of Defense.

In November 2005, Mofaz rejected Sharon's offer to join his new centrist party, Kadima, and instead announced his candidacy for the leadership of Likud. But a month later, Mofaz withdrew his bid from the Likud race to join Kadima. From May 2006 until April 2009, he served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transportation and Road Safety under Ehud Olmert.

In the eighteenth Knesset, Mofaz chaired the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee as well as the Joint Committee for the Defense Budget. He also served as chairman of the Lobby for Direct Employment, as a member of the Lobby for Eilat and the Lobby for Promoting the Two-State Solution and Separation Between Israel and the Palestinians.

On March 27, 2012, Mofaz defeated Tzipi Livni, the incumbent chairperson of the Kadima Party. He received 61.7 percent of the vote compared to Livni's 37.2 percent. Upon his victory, Mofaz declared that "This evening, Kadima has won," and assured Livni that "your place is with us." Livni, however, left Kadima to form a new party, HaTnuah ("the movement" in Hebrew).

Mofaz reiterated his vision for Kadima's role in the Israeli political landscape: "Three years of [Benjamin] Netanyahu have diverted us from doing the right thing, but together we will return Israel to the right path," he said.

Despite Mofaz's vigor, Kadima barely passed the electoral threshhold in the January 2013 elections - garnering 74,735 votes (2.09%) - and winning only two seats in the Knesset.

Shaul is married to Orit Mofaz and they have four children.

Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry; Knesset website; Times of Israel (March 28, 2012); Wikipedia