Netanyahu in the Knesset (file)
Netanyahu in the Knesset (file) Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday evening derided opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog's admission that the two-state solution isn't currently viable, mockingly "congratulating" the Labor party leader for finally "waking up" to the reality of the Middle East.

"A year ago I said that the current circumstances do not seem to allow the realization of a two states for two peoples solution. You certainly would be surprised to know or remember that even then you attacked me furiously.

"Now, at the beginning of the week, on Sunday, something happened. Members of the Labor party decided that the arrangement of two states for two people cannot be implemented under the current situation," Netanyahu said.

"Good morning Buji, and welcome to the Middle East!" he continued, using Herzog's nickname. "The alarm is ringing and maybe you're finally beginning to understand where we live.

"You're the last ones to recognize the reality. So yes, it's better late than never, but how can we trust your judgment in dealing with the threats around us?"

"Good morning, Buji!" Netanyahu said, using Herzog's nickname. "I’m happy you woke up - welcome to the Middle East! Maybe you’ve finally figured out where we live!"

Netanyahu was speaking at a special Knesset debate on the "two-state solution", and just shortly after Herzog gave a press conference to unveil his "separation plan" - essentially a call for additional Israeli unilateral withdrawals.

Apart from the prime minister's mockery, Herzog also faced heckles from the far-left - who accuse him of "abandoning" the two-state solution - at one point snapping back at Meretz head Zehava Galon: "I don't sell illusions to my voters like you do!"

In recent weeks Herzog has veered away from his predecessors' insistence that a two-state solution would solve the current conflict, taking a decidedly more "centrist" tone and advocating instead for unilateral withdrawals like the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza and northern Samaria.

At a press conference earlier Wednesday, he told foreign journalists his plan is the only "realistic" one.

"I believe that we have to be realistic," he said. "And I believe that reality calls right now to understand that, tomorrow, peace is not around the corner. What needs to be done is separating from the Palestinians as much as possible. This is taking our fate in our own hands."  

But he also said his initiative was aimed at preserving the two-state solution until it became viable in the future, while recognizing progress cannot be made until the violence stops. He argued that "no other party or leader has presented a plan that is realistic."

Matt Wanderman contributed to this report.

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