Herzog fires back: It's either me or Liberman

Labor leader in pithy press conference warns PM 'history will judge' his decision whether to include him or Avigdor Liberman in gov't.

Ari Soffer ,

Yitzhak Herzog
Yitzhak Herzog
Flash 90

Opposition leader and Zionist Union party chief Yitzhak Herzog has announced he is suspending unity government talks with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, after the premier issued an invitation to begin talks with Yisrael Beytenu party head Avigdor Liberman.

In a markedly abrupt, pithy press conference, Herzog said Netanyahu faced a choice between "going to war and funerals, and the victory of (Avigdor) Liberman and (Naftali) Bennett, or the track of hope" - namely, inviting the Zionist Union party to join the coalition instead.

"These are the choices - there are no other options," he added. "We won't continue negotiations at the same time - if Netanyahu wants to bring Liberman into (the government), he can let him in."

Vowing not to "allow Liberman to set the agenda," Herzog said he would continue to stand by his values which, in his words, were the only reason he had not already accepted Netanyahu's offers to join the government.

Herzog - who had reportedly been demanding the foreign ministry portfolio - further asserted that "the choice is between me in defense or Liberman in defense; between madness and sanity," referring to Liberman's demand for the defense ministry. That comment was more likely a reference to the wider political ramifications of the choice between the two, than an indication Herzog was after the defense ministry specifically, however.

Herzog also cited Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi's recent call for a regional peace effort.

Once again branding it a "historic moment," Herzog said he was the only Israeli politician who could usher in such a regional peace deal.

"The responsibility to actualize this opportunity is now with Netanyahu," he said. History will judge this moment."