Israeli opposition head Isaac Herzog warned Sunday that, if efforts to reach a peace deal in the region fail, “the biggest threat to the existence of the State of Israel” is the possible emergence of a binational state roughly divided among Jews and Arabs.
“In about a decade, the Arabs between the Jordan and the Mediterranean will be a majority and the Jews a minority,” Herzog stated during an address at the Herzliya Conference. “The Jewish national home will become the Palestinian national home. We will be, again, for the first time since 1948, a Jewish minority among an increasing Arab majority.”
Herzog criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current government for failing to advance diplomatic initiatives, adding that of the 30 Knesset members in the ruling Likud party, 20 were officially opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state. He stressed that he and his party, on the other hand, were determined that Israel separate from the Palestinian population under its control in order to preserve the nation’s unique status as a majority-Jewish state.
“I want to separate from the Palestinians,” said Herzog, who heads the Zionist Union party. “I want to maintain a Jewish state with a Jewish majority. I don’t want 61 Palestinian MKs in Israel’s Knesset. I don’t want a Palestinian prime minister in Israel. I don’t want them to change my flag and my national anthem.
“I don’t want them to change the name of my country to Isra-stine,” Herzog continued, in an apparent reference to proposals regarding the establishment of a confederate Israeli-Palestinian state encompassing the territory of Israel, as well as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Herzog went on to urge an immediate regional initiative aimed both at disarming and reconstructing the Gaza Strip, which was devastated following last summer’s 50-day war between Israel and Hamas. He said that if he were prime minister, he would work toward achieving peace with moderate regional partners, establish the Jordan Valley as Israel’s security border, and advance confidence-building measures with the Palestinians.
Finally, he condemned what he called the “brainwashing” of British students who voted in favor of a measure to boycott Israel, but claimed that Netanyahu had not done enough in order to counter efforts to discredit the legitimacy of the Jewish state’s policies. The UK’s National Union of Students passed a motion Tuesday to join worldwide efforts to boycott Israel over what it called Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights, effectively aligning the body with the Palestinian-instigated Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.
Efforts to boycott Israel over its policies in the West Bank and Gaza have been steadily gaining strength for years but are currently dominating the national agenda as never before, with senior politicians and activists elevating the imperative to fight against the so-called BDS movement to top priority.
AFP contributed to this report.