Yitzhak Herzog
Yitzhak HerzogMiriam Alster/Flash 90

Days after a somewhat unexpected loss, Zionist Union Chairman Yitzhak Herzog has found a scapegoat for the party's poor showing. 

According to Herzog, Yair Garbuz - the now-infamous artist who said before elections that Israel was under the control of a cabal of “swindlers, molesters, and mezuzah kissers" - was the reason for the party's big loss. 

Speaking in an interview Thursday, Herzog “complimented” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his very effective campaign, especially in the days preceding Election Day.

“He ran an obsessive campaign full of lies and fear-mongering, and he managed to ruin Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home and Eli Yishai's Yachad, and to take votes from Shas and Yisrael Beytenu. It's as if Netanyahu reinvented himself last Friday,” when the polls showed Likud trailing his party, Herzog said.

After a long night Tuesday, Herzog got word about his loss in a text message from Tzipi Livni. “I turned on the radio at 6:30 AM but there was nothing on the news bulletin, so I went back to sleep. Later I got a message from Tzipi giving me the bad news,” he said.

It's very unlikely that Labor could be tempted to join a coalition government, Herzog said, even though the occasion for that could arise.

“I am not sure that the parties set to join his coalition are really committed to working with him.” However, he added, “I do not plan to pursue options with Netanyahu. I think our alternative – to remain in the opposition – is very clear.”

Regarding the reason for his losing the election, Herzog pointed to the now infamous rally that took place in Tel Aviv ten days before the election. “There's no question that the speech given by Garbuz hurt us,” he said.

Although he did not condemn or distance himself from the comments when they were made, Herzog said Thursday that he obviously did not subscribe to those beliefs.

“I have nothing to do with Garbuz,” Herzog said. “I have a golden rule - never to criticize beliefs and opinions, or to insult someone for their faith.”