Herzog calls on Lapid, Livni to form new gov’t

Opposition leader predicts new elections will be held within a year — and that he will be the ‘only’ alternative to Netanyahu

Yifa Yaakov is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Issac Herzog, the new leader of Israel's Labor party, speaks at a news conference in Tel Aviv November 22, 2013. (Photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/FLASH90
Issac Herzog, the new leader of Israel's Labor party, speaks at a news conference in Tel Aviv November 22, 2013. (Photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/FLASH90

Labor Party head and opposition leader Isaac Herzog on Saturday called on Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni to leave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition and join a center-left bloc under his leadership.

Predicting that new elections would be held in the coming year, as Jewish Home Party leader Naftali Bennett has predicted, Herzog said he would be the one to form the next government.

“I am the only one who can establish a center-left bloc that will serve as an alternative to the Netanyahu government,” Herzog said at a cultural event in Holon.

He added that “Lapid and Livni have nothing left to do in this government.” Finance Minister Lapid heads the centrist Yesh Atid coalition party; Justice Minister Livni, chief negotiator in the failed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, heads the center-left Hatnua party.

Herzog went on to criticize Netanyahu’s policies, saying even the prime minister’s own constituency had forgotten the political heritage of his party, Likud.

“The Likud’s supporters are allowing the [hawkish Ze’ev] Elkins and [Danny] Danons to control them. They have forgotten [former prime minister Menachem] Begin’s legacy. We can’t run a Jewish and democratic state if we annex all the land up to the Jordan River,” Herzog said.

He added that despite the policies of Netanyahu and some of the more hawkish members of his party, the Israeli public still did not enjoy full security.

“Netanyahu is constantly dribbling the ball, but he never suggests a solution to this problematic situation. There is no security for the people, and the Israeli public has no real faith in a partner for peace,” said Herzog.

The opposition leader also said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had “promised” him that he would cooperate with Israel in the search for the three kidnapped students and “act to reduce the threats directed toward Israeli citizens by Hamas.”

Despite inviting him to join him in forming an alternative coalition, Herzog had harsh words for Lapid as well.

“From his very first day in office, Lapid has been unable to see poverty,” he said. “His attitude is condescending. There are families that are barely able to survive because of his sanctions regime.”

Herzog warned that the next Lapid- and Netanyahu-drafted budget plan that would have to be approved would lead to “either the disintegration of the government or the disintegration of Israeli society.”

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