Herzog slams Likud’s attack on Shimon Peres

Labor leader rejects ruling party’s criticism of ex-president in wake of dramatic poverty report, urges it to focus on economic issues

Labor party leader Isaac Herzog on December 14, 2014. (photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Labor party leader Isaac Herzog on December 14, 2014. (photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog leapt to the defense of former president Shimon Peres Monday, scorning the Likud party’s criticism of the elder statesman for his lambasting of the government’s economic policies.

Peres on Monday criticized the government after an NGO published a report in which it claimed over a third of Israelis are “poor,” a figure dramatically higher than the 18.6% of households that the National Insurance Institute classifies as poor. The former president, who stepped down from the largely ceremonial post earlier this year, said Monday, “you can’t feed hungry children and elderly people with proclamations to the media.”

“This report is a fierce indictment against ourselves,” Peres said. “The parties must make treating the needy a priority in the elections.”

The Likud party responded quickly in a statement, saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government’s “raising the minimum wage to NIS 4,300 in 2011 was action, not declarations.” It proceeded to catalog a number of Netanyahu administration accomplishments, and said that “the ‘declarations’ are the baseless vilification of Netanyahu and Likud by leftists.”

Herzog joined the brouhaha Monday night, attacking the Likud party for its criticism of Peres.

“I advise the various Likud spokespeople to desist in their cowardly and anonymous attacks on former president Shimon Peres, one of the giants of our country and one of the most distinguished people in the 66 years since the state’s founding,” he said.

He lauded Peres’s life of service to the Jewish people and the state of Israel, and took a swipe at Likud’s offensive.

“If the Likud party has something to say, let it come and battle with me and with the solutions we offer to the grave social crises left over after six years of Netanyahu’s rule,” Herzog said.

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