Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz on Sunday left the ruling Likud party to join Ariel Sharon's new Kadima party ahead of next year's general election, Israel Radio reported. The surprise move was the latest high-level defection from the Likud, which Sharon left last month citing frustration with far-right members.
Explaining his decision, Mofaz said he felt he could no longer be part of the Likud, which is "drifting farther and farther to the extreme right." The Likud leaderhip, according to Mofaz, is being taken over by its most radical right-wing elements, while the more moderate candidates, Benjamin Netanyahu and Silvan Shalom, are being pushed aside. According to Haaretz, Mofaz said he was promised by Sharon that he will continue to serve in the defense post in the next government as well, should Sharon be re-elected prime minister.