Herzog: Netanyahu is ‘incapable’ of peace with Palestinians

Opposition leader says Trump will eventually become fed up with PM’s delaying tactics, meant to appease the right

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Opposition leader head of the Zionist Union party MK Isaac Herzog speaks at the Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, June 22, 2017. (Flash90)
Opposition leader head of the Zionist Union party MK Isaac Herzog speaks at the Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, June 22, 2017. (Flash90)

Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog on Thursday declared that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t have what it takes to make peace with the Palestinians and that the Israeli leader is likely to eventually wear out Washington’s patience on the matter.

Speaking at an annual security conference at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Herzog further accused the prime minister of being engaged mostly in his own political survival and following the lead of Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett in order to maintain an image of being right-wing.

“I say with certainty that Netanyahu is incapable of reaching peace with the Palestinians,” said Herzog, who leads the Zionist Union faction. “He can talk, procrastinate and bluff. One day, the White House will have had enough. Netanyahu cannot give Trump what Trump needs to get the Palestinians to negotiate, because Netanyahu is not really ready to go for the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Jared Kushner, son-in-law and special adviser to US President Donald Trump, was subjected to the same treatment when he met with Netanyahu on Wednesday, Herzog asserted.

“In my opinion at some point the White House will get fed up with [Netanyahu]” or they will point to him as preventing the peace process from advancing, he said.

The opposition leader rapped Netanyahu for looking after his own interests by letting Bennett lead him to policies that appeal to the right.

“Netanyahu chooses his personal survival over historical change — he is afraid to leave Balfour Street, so each time Bennett lifts his head, Netanyahu copies him,” Herzog said, referring to the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, where Netanyahu has lived in the eight years since he reassumed office in 2009.

“Netanyahu managed to convince some Likud voters that he will bring both security and peace,” Herzog added and then recalled a Likud campaign ad in 2015 that warned the left-leaning Zionist Union politics would lead Islamic State terrorists to Jerusalem. “He said that Tzipi Livni and I would bring the Islamic State to Jerusalem, and today there are IS forces in the capital on his watch,” he said, apparently referring to a deadly stabbing attack last week that was claimed by IS, among other groups.

Herzog also spoke about the events last year during which he was engaged in intense — and ultimately fruitless — negotiations with Netanyahu to join the government coalition, or at least back it, in order to further a peace process with the Palestinians that apparently had strong backing from some Arab states, including Egypt and Jordan.

He was, he said, prepared to “take a brave political course even if was against his own camp” last year but that the significant progress was stymied when Netanyahu “brought politics into things.”

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