Yitzhak Herzog
Yitzhak Herzog Herzliya Conference

Speaking at the 2016 Herzliya Conference Thursday morning, opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) blasted the Likud-led government’s handling of terrorism and foreign policy, saying that under an “entirely right-wing government” Israeli security remained tenuous and relations with the Obama administration had sunk to new lows.

“Finally we have a right-wing Prime Minister, a right-wing Defense Minister, a right-wing Education Minister, a right-wing Justice Minister, a right-wing Agricultural Minister, and even a right-wing Infrastructure Minister. In the rest of the ministries we have just one minister; and by the way, he’s right-wing as well,” Herzog joked.

“There isn’t a single left-winger you can blame for [the recent] terror attacks,” Herzog said. “There are no Laborites ‘preventing the IDF from achieving victory’” – a reference to a popular right-wing bumper sticker. “There are no ‘Oslo criminals’ preventing the right from defeating terror, to wipe it out, to crush it, the smash it, to break it apart.”

Herzog ridiculed the Netanyahu government, suggesting that behind the rhetoric and bluster there was little in the way of concrete action. He went on to compare the coalition’s ministers to cartoon characters and comic book superheroes.

“Now there isn’t even a single leftist ‘polluting’ the agenda. If any of you have any additional ‘strong words’ to express this agenda, you’re welcome to mail them to ‘Batman Bennett’ or ‘Popeye Liberman’.”

Despite the presence of these defense hawks in positions of power, Herzog said, the security situation remains precarious.

“Look what’s happening around us. Worsening waves of violence, a stone-throwing Intifada that’s turning into [mass] terror with Kalashnikovs and Carl Gustavs [two types of automatic weapons popular with terror groups] as citizens are afraid to be in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or Gush Etzion”.

Citing reports from Wednesday that the White House may cut military aid to Israel, Herzog blamed the Israeli government, saying they had turned the US into an enemy.

“America, this government’s biggest enemy after Iran, announces to the world that they are cutting military aid. So who will fund the air defense system protecting children in Sderot and Kiryat Shemona? And who will ship here ammunition for the emergency warehouses? And who will stop our enemies in the UN? Will [Israeli UN Ambassador] Danny Danon get help from Oren Hazan?”

Deputy Secretary of Defense Antony Blinken refuted claims the US was weighing cuts to aid to Israel. During a speech to the Herzliya Conference on Wednesday, Blinken said the White House was preparing “the largest single pledge of military assistance from the United States to any country in our history”.