Opposition leader MK Yitzhak Herzog
Opposition leader MK Yitzhak HerzogMiriam Alster/Flash 90

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) blasted opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog on Sunday for his demand that Israel should accept refugees from Syria. 

Speaking at the weekly "Shabbatarbut" event in Tel Aviv on Saturday, Herzog asserted that "Jews cannot be indifferent when hundreds of thousands of refugees are searching for a safe haven."

"Opposition leader Buji Herzog urges the government to absorb Syrian refugees into Israel," Katz wrote on his Facebook page. "What a lack of political wisdom and national responsibility. He should at least suggest, as did Finland's Prime Minister, to take them into his own home."

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) also slammed the Zionist Union chairman, accusing him of "populism" and "irresponsibility."

"MK Herzog's populist proposal to absorb refugees from Syria into Israel is an irresponsible proposal whose sole purpose is to scour our moral conscience," Levin charged. 

"The State of Israel has been at the forefront of humanitarian aid for years, and was the first country willing to treat the Syrian wounded."

"However, we must be careful and know where to draw the red line," Levin explained. "Absorbing refugees from an enemy who may join forces with internal forces seeking to undermine the state, would harm national interests and create a demographic imbalance."

Not all Likud ministers agreed, however, with Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation Ayoub Kara asserting on Sunday that Israel should accept tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, mostly Druze.

"It's impossible that a nation that experienced [the Holocaust] 70 years ago, should run away from this and say 'I'm not in the game.' It can't happen," Kara argued.

Zionist Union defended Herzog's comments, slamming Likud ministers for ignoring the fact that former Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin was Israel's first leader to allow non-Jewish refugees into the country. In 1977, Begin allowed 66 Vietnamese boat people whose vessel was leaking and who had been ignored by other countries, to enter Israel.

"Like Herzog today, Begin knew it was impossible to ignore the history of the Jewish people and the international effort to help those fleeing for their lives."

"Herzog was speaking about several hundred refugees, mostly Druze, whose lives are in immediate danger," the faction stressed. "We have no doubt Begin would be turning in his grave if he knew Likud ministers favored [MK Oren] Hazan's Likud more than the one he led." The Syrian Druze have professed loyalty to the Assad regime.