Democratic Camp leader Nitzan Horowitz on Sunday warned against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank, saying it risked turning Israel into “some kind of apartheid state.”
Speaking in an on-stage interview co-sponsored by The Times of Israel and the Tel Aviv International Salon, Horowitz said his left-wing union of Meretz, former prime minister Ehud Barak’s Israel Democratic Party and Labor defector Stav Shaffir, supported “reaching a full peace agreement to create a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel.”
Taking a shot at the rival Labor-Gesher alliance, he said the Democratic Camp is the only mainstream party that defines itself as left-wing, offering unbridled support for a Palestinian state along with minority rights and religious pluralism within Israel.
“The meaning of annexation of millions of Palestinians without basic living rights under Israeli control is that Israel is no longer Jewish because it wouldn’t have a Jewish majority, and it also wouldn’t be a democracy. This is some kind of apartheid state. They would be Class C citizens. This is unacceptable,” Horowitz said of plans to annex parts or all of the West Bank.
Horowitz, who was interviewed by Times of Israel editor David Horovitz, was referring both to Netanyahu’s talk in recent days of annexing the Jordan Valley and all the settlements, and to Yamina MK Naftali Bennett’s plan to annex the 60% percent of the West Bank area defined as Area C. Bennett had set out his views in a similar onstage interview with the Times of Israel editor immediately before.
Insisting that the Palestinian Authority was a partner for peace, the Democratic Camp leader said that “The agreement should be made with the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. They are our partners for the last 25 years. We work with them on a daily basis on security coordination. They have declared openly that they recognize Israel and want a two state solution.”
Asked how such an agreement can be trusted given that a new and potentially more radical Palestinian leader will eventually replace the 84-year old PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Horowitz said that strengthened the argument for making a deal now.
“So what are we waiting for, for Abbas to die? We can’t just wait. Abbas is a moderate leader, someone will replace him. It’s not with the person that you sign the agreement, it’s the country,” he said emphatically, pointing to Israel’s 40-year-old peace agreement with Egypt that outlived Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s assassination.
On Netanyahu’s campaign methods, Horowitz slammed the prime minister for what he called “an unrelenting campaign to smear the left and the media,” likening the tactics to those used by US President Donald Trump.
A former journalist who covered the 2016 US election for Channel 12 news during a brief hiatus from politics, Horowitz said, “I saw the Trump campaign day in day out. He was performing the same ritual as Netanyahu every single night — slamming the media and appearing on it.”
Unequivocally, he added that Netanyahu “should just go home. He has served more than Ben Gurion. It’s time to have a change it’s not healthy in a democracy for a ruler to stay in power that long, it corrupts.”
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