Opposition leader and Labor party head MK Yitzchak Herzog said on Tuesday that he agreed with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s demands for security as part of a peace agreement, but expressed doubts that Netanyahu would lead Israel to peace with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Herzog’s comments were made in reaction to Netanyahu’s speech at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington.
The opposition leader said he agreed with Netanyahu’s statement that “security arrangements are a prerequisite for any agreement, and that the economic and international potential of the fruits of peace may take the State of Israel to places we have previously not known. However, I believe less and less that Netanyahu wants and will be able to be the one who will lead us to a diplomatic settlement."
Herzog also addressed Netanyahu’s comments in the speech against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). Netanyahu said that the movement is standing "on the wrong side of the moral divide," and was bound to fail.
Herzog noted that he opposed the boycott movement against Israel, but added that “it has become a strategic threat to Israel, and diplomatic inaction could only help its leaders.”
Netanyahu’s speech at the AIPAC conference received a cool reception from Meretz chairwoman MK Zehava Galon. She said that Netanyahu’s speech was more of the same.
"The applause at AIPAC is just an illusory moment. The same speech and the same content we've heard a million times already, with no vision and no courage,” she charged.
"The applause does not change the reality to which Netanyahu is leading us: isolation and international ostracism,” continued Galon. “His focusing on Iran in more detail while minimally engaging with the Palestinian issue and his repeated demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state reveal his true perception about the chances of reaching an agreement," she added.
Galon’s comments follow similar statements she made on Monday, after meeting with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. During that meeting, Abbas stated that he “will put the keys on the table and turn to international organizations” unless Israel freezes construction in Judea and Samaria.
“The problem is that instead of making new and courageous choices about peace Netanyahu prefers to make old and cowardly decisions on settlement construction,” Galon wrote after meeting Abbas. “Ironically, just as Netanyahu's meeting with Obama began, a report by the Central Bureau of Statistics indicated that this year a record was set in the number of new homes in the settlements - a crazy increase of 125% last year(!).”
“These, my friends, are the distorted priorities of the Netanyahu government. One hand builds settlements and the other hand flies to Obama to tell him stories about peace,” she added.