Sources close to opposition leader MK Yitzhak Herzog reported overnight Tuesday that unity talks with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had stalled over disagreements regarding the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The officials accused Netanyahu of being “scared of the extremist elements in the Jewish Home party,” to which they referred as the “Smotriches” – a play on the name of Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich.
Herzog, who is working to convince members of his party to support the unity agreement, has been telling them that joining the government would help in kickstarting the peace process with the Palestinians.
But it seems that Netanyahu is refusing some of Herzog’s demands, including his demand to be authorized to hold peace talks by himself as well as his demand for a reduction in the scope of construction in Judea and Samaria.
The comments came hours after Herzog posted a video to Facebook in which he linked his desire to join the coalition with the statement by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi calling for a peace agreement between Israel and the PA.
"The speech by President Al-Sisi in Egypt today is a speech which I define as historic and revolutionary," Herzog said.
"The drama of the speech is due, first of and foremost, to the way he details what he wants to do, and the fact that it detects a rare regional opportunity that has not existed in the past," continued Herzog. "When I talked about this opportunity a few days ago, I knew what I was saying."
Talks between Herzog and Netanyahu have been ongoing, and the two met in person on Sunday night to discuss the possibility of a unity government.
During that meeting, according to subsequent reports, Herzog asked for a significant improvement in the offers that had been made so far so that he could persuade party colleagues to join him.
One source stated that Herzog had specifically asked for the justice, communications, or culture ministerial portfolios.