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Herzog: Liberman Trying to Sabotage the Peace Process

Opposition leader slams Foreign Minister for saying that there is no chance of peace with the PA in the near future.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/8/2013, 4:16 AM

MK Yitzchak Herzog
MK Yitzchak Herzog
Flash 90

Opposition leader MK Yitzchak Herzog (Labor) on Saturday accused Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman of trying to sabotage the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Herzog, who is currently in Washington where he will meet with National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Secretary of State John Kerry, was responding to Liberman’s remarks at the Saban Forum on Friday, where the Foreign Minister said that peace was impossible in the near future, because there was “zero trust” between the two sides.

Herzog called on Liberman to undergo a “reality check”, saying that the Foreign Minister “should remember that even if he refuses to recognize a reality that exists, it does not mean it ceases to exist.”

He continued, “The Foreign Minister refuses to understand what most of the Israeli public understands: that a diplomatic settlement with the Palestinians, especially the stabilization of agreed upon borders, is not just a favor or a wishful abstract - is an absolute necessity for the survival of Israel and for the existence of Zionism."

Herzog charged, “Liberman’s position will bring about a binational state and endanger the Jewish majority in Israel. The Netanyahu-Lieberman-Bennett government continues to provide the Israeli public with lack of ability and lack of hope. The Israeli public deserves better leadership.”

"I see optimism among all sides for the possibility of a historic move, so it was expected that the extreme right would start making calls that aim to sabotage the process,” he concluded.

In a newspaper interview published on Friday, the newly elected head of the Labor party outlined what he believed should be in an agreement with the PA, namely land swaps and the division of Jerusalem.

"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."

Herzog recently met with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and following the meeting declared that he would push the Israeli government to take "brave" steps in peace negotiations.

Shortly after he was elected as Labor head, Herzog said he was “in no rush” to join Netanyahu’s coalition and added that if Netanyahu made “a bold diplomatic move”, the Labor party would assist him in passing it.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua), eager to see a coalition that would it make it easier for her to pass an agreement with the PA which includes concessions to the PA, has been calling Labor to join the coalition in order to weaken the Jewish Home.