Herzog: For now, two-state solution unrealistic

Opposition leader says current situation means Israel must focus on security measures rather than bilateral agreement

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Zionist Union party chairman MK Isaac Herzog leads a faction meeting in the Knesset, January 4, 2016 (FLASH90)
Zionist Union party chairman MK Isaac Herzog leads a faction meeting in the Knesset, January 4, 2016 (FLASH90)

Issac Herzog, leader of the opposition and chairman of the center-left Zionist Union party, said Wednesday that the two-state solution is not a realistic option in the near future.

“I don’t see a possibility at the moment of implementing the two-state solution,” he told Army Radio. “I want to yearn for it, I want to move toward it, I want negotiations, I sign on to it and I am obligated to it, but I don’t see the possibility of doing it right now.”

The opposition leader blamed the current Israeli and Palestinian leadership for the impasse — “[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] are incapable of moving forward,” he alleged — but said that should he be elected prime minister, his coalition would focus on implementing security measures rather than a bilateral agreement.

“There is a need to initiate security measures that match the reality on the ground and that means separation from the Palestinians,” he told Army Radio, espousing a plan that includes completing the West Bank security barrier and “physically separating” the Palestinian villages surrounding Jerusalem from the capital.

On Tuesday Herzog made similar comments at the Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv.

“I wish to separate from as many Palestinians as possible, as quickly as possible,” he told the crowd of security and diplomatic professionals. You exist there and we exist here.”

In a move that many considered a sharp turn to the right for the leader of the Zionist Union — a party comprising the stalwart center-left Labor and Tzipi Livni’s dovish Hatnua — Herzog said he saw the need “to complete the security barrier around all of the settlement blocs.”

He said that routing the fence around the blocs would both protect the people living there from attacks and send a message to the Palestinians that they will remain a part of Israel in any future negotiations.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed