In a surprising turn of events, Opposition Chairman and Labor Party head Yitzhak Herzog made a public statement of support Friday for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's demands that the Palestinian Authority (PA) recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
"I think that the demand for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland as part of an interim agreement is correct and I support it," Herzog stated, in an interview with Maariv. "This stems from the fact that the basis for the request is in the (United Nations, 1947) Partition Plan, which would have seen two states - one of them a Jewish state. I disagree with MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) on this issue."
"The Geneva Accords also contained a clause that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland," Herzog continued, adding that "on the other hand, Israel would also recognize Palestine as the Palestinian homeland."
Herzog dismissed the remarks by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas last week, where he declared that the PA would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. President Shimon Peres similarly said in January that the PA recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is "unnecessary."
Herzog believes that the issue is simply a matter of timing.
"[Abbas] said that because the recognition has been a prerequisite to talks in the past," Herzog opined. "In reality, the demand is a just one and should be part of a permanent agreement. I am sure [US Secretary of State John] Kerry will be able to find a way to get the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state."
Herzog's comments differ radically from the views implied in an impassioned speech he gave last week, whereby he attacked the nationalist camp for rejecting an agreement over the multiple issues Israel has been having with the PA, including ongoing incitement, the demands to give away land, and its refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
In the speech, Herzog attacked politicians who disagreed with the push to form an agreement with the PA, calling them anti-Zionists.
"You may not want it, but you're undermining the Jewish people, you are the true post-Zionists, you are the true threat to 2000 years of longing for a Jewish state," he fired from the podium. "The goal of separation from our neighbors the Palestinians is so strategically vital that if the talks do not advance, we'll consider taking drastic action."