Herzog: Divide Jerusalem and Make Land Swaps
MK Yitzchak Herzog, newly elected head of the Labor party and head of the Opposition, said that while Gush Etzion in Judea is one of his favorite places, he envisions land swaps and the division of Jerusalem with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Herzog noted his fondness for Kibbutz Masu'ot Yitzchak, located in Judea. He told Yedioth Ahronoth the kibbutz "was named after my grandfather (former Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Herzog) on his 70th birthday. He thought to retire and become a farmer there. There's a memorial to him there, and a cypress tree my father planted."
However, the Labor leader claims a peace agreement with the PA must be reached to keep Gush Etzion part of Israel. He envisions land swaps leaving "settlement blocs" in Israel hands and giving the vast majority of Judea and Samaria, Israel's biblical heartland, to the PA.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni welcomed Herzog's recent election, calling for a "new partnership" that would push for Israeli concessions as part of an agreement with the PA. Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett also was quick to call for renewed cooperation under Herzog's leadership.
Herzog's vision of Israeli concessions puts Israel's capital in his sights as well.
"I see Jerusalem serving as two political capitals: in eastern Jerusalem the capital of the Palestinian state, and the west of the city as the Jewish capital," Herzog said, adding "the seat of the Palestinian government could be in one of east Jerusalem's neighborhoods in my opinion, I'm not afraid of that."
When asked if all of Jerusalem would remain Israeli territory under his paradigm, Herzog wouldn't give details, saying "the Kotel (Western Wall) will stay in Israel's hands, as for the rest we have to be creative."
Over a week ago Herzog said he's "in no rush" to join Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition, calling it "an evil coalition."
Instead, Herzog has revealed his plans to challenge the coalition. The newly elected Labor head sees his party leading a large "center-left bloc," including Livni's The Movement party, Kadima, Meretz, and elements of Economics Minister Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid.
If such a bloc could be formed, and if any party were to have enough votes to replace the current government, Herzog intends to challenge the coalition.
Herzog also discussed the Israeli media's portrayal of him as a weak figure, saying the portrayal is "because I'm thin, and I don't have a low voice, and I have a baby face."
"They call me a nerd," says Herzog. "I don't know what a nerd is. I live a normal life, keep a family lifestyle, invest myself into public needs. ...Maybe (being a nerd) is the right model for a public figure?"