Opposition leader Yitzchak Herzog on Thursday said that he and his Labor Party would not be opposed to the principle of a “land swap” with a future Palestinian state in the event a final-status treaty could be worked out. Speaking at Bar Ilan University, Herzog discussed a number of issues, the greatest dangers Israel faces, and his thoughts on becoming Prime Minister.
Regarding the last point, Herzog said that he fully expects to replace Binyamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister in the coming elections.
“The Likud has nothing new to sell,” he said. “The reforms made by former Communications Minister Kahlon that reduced the prices of cellphone service they already sold in the last elections. Israelis are tired of militants drawing guns for every little thing. Perhaps the time has come for an intelligent person with a record to take over things,” meaning himself, he said.
Herzog said that he would be happy if areas of Judea and Samaria where Jews live could be retained by Israel, despite the establishment of a Palestinian state. “I have no problem with land swaps, trading areas of 'Israel proper' in order to keep Ariel,” in Samaria. “MKs who want to annex Judea and Samaria and are opposed to the two-state solution will cause a terrible tragedy here, it will be a death blow to Israel” because the country will be inundated with Arabs who will vote the Jewish state out of existence.
Jerusalem, he said, was the “rock of our existence as a people,” and of course Jews had a right to it. However, Israelis needed to remember that Jerusalem had many Arab neighborhoods. “We must distinguish between the heart of Jerusalem in the Old City and the many Arab villages that are part of 'Jerusalem,' which are only there because someone drew a map that looked like that.”
Despite the enemies and regional issues Israel faces, said Herzog, the greatest enemy Israelis face is right here at home.
“Poverty is the greatest threat to Israeli society,” he declared, echoing the view of former party head Sheli Yachimovich, who focused the party's platform on economic, rather that diplomatic issues. “It generates depression and makes it difficult to develop as a nation. Labor will ensure that all Israelis have the opportunity to earn an income. It is time for Israelis to come home to the 'mother party,'” he added.