Labor Tells Yesh Atid to Collapse Government for 'Peace'

Herzog slams Yesh Atid for Jewish Home alliance, tells party to join Opposition; Livni launches offensive on settlement enterprise.

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Yoni Kempinski, Ari Yashar,

Yitzhak Herzog
Yitzhak Herzog
Flash 90

Leftist MKs attacked the settlement enterprise in Israel's Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, from the platform of the Herzliya Conference on Sunday.

"The settlement enterprise is a security, financial and moral burden," claimed Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua).

Livni added that "the settlement enterprise is built to prevent us from ever reaching a (peace) agreement; the settlement enterprise takes enormous budgets from social issues essential to Israeli society - education, health, social justice in all its levels and varieties."

Opposition and Labor Party Chairman MK Yitzchak Herzog joined the offensive, attacking the erstwhile political alliance between Yesh Atid and Jewish Home. Herzog singled out Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home), who has announced at several junctures new construction plans for Judea and Samaria, to the ire of the American administration and the West at large.

"Whoever give the construction portfolio to the Jewish Home and lets the cat watch over the mice, have lost their right to speak about peace a long time ago," charged Herzog, hinting at Yesh Atid's agreement with Jewish Home to only join the coalition together.

Speaking about Yesh Atid Chairman and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Herzog went on the attack, saying "Yair Lapid - if you truly want to speak about peace, don't show us theoretical plans wrapped in cellophane, and don't give us virtual solutions."

"Get up, leave the government - it isn't too late, and together we'll build a coalition that will bring Israel to peace," said Herzog.

Lapid at the conference threatened to leave the coalition government if the plans of Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, which were officially presented at the conference, were adopted and Area C of Judea and Samaria was annexed.

Lapid called for a return to peace talks, despite the inclusion of Hamas in the new Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) unity government formed last Monday. He also called for a construction freeze outside of the "settlement blocs."

Sources close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu slammed Lapid's speech on Sunday, saying "anyone who has political experience knows that one does not make concessions without receiving anything in return, particularly with a government which includes a terrorist organization that wants to destroy Israel."

Welfare Minister Meir Cohen of Lapid's Yesh Atid party went further on Saturday, announcing the party would leave the coalition government if it did not negotiate with the Fatah-Hamas unity government.