A feature of Israel’s heated electoral season has been the accusation that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruined previous chances for peace with the Palestinians. But now Netanyahu’s chief challenger, Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog (pictured), admits the Palestinian Authority isn’t exactly the most viable peace partner.
“I’m not sure that we have a partner for peace,” Herzog said in a pre-election interview with the daily newspaper Israel Hayom. “I am not sure there is a party on the other side that is interested in peace. So far they have been very happy with their one-sided strategy.”
Herzog stressed that he remains committed to a two-state solution and preventing Israel from becoming a bi-national state, but pointed out that, like Netanyahu, he would insist on retaining control over large Jewish settlement bloc in the so-called “West Bank.”
The seeming similarities in their positions notwithstanding, Netanyahu was adamant that putting the peace process in the hands of Herzog and his co-leader Tzipi Livni would pose a grave risk to Israel’s security and future.
“There will be pressure to withdraw to the [pre-]1967 lines and divide Jerusalem,” Netanyahu warned in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, adding that should Israelis choose to vote for Herzog and Livni, “You will get prime ministers who completely prostrate themselves to any pressure. Not only can’t they stand up to pressure, they don’t want to stand up to the pressure. They just want to yield and give in.”
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said at a financial conference in Tel Aviv on Wednesday that whoever becomes the next prime minister need beware that facilitating the birth of a Palestinian state on any portion of land would do tremendous economic damage to the Jewish state.
Bennett used the example of last summer’s Gaza war to point out that an independent Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria would allow groups like Hamas to position their missiles mere miles from Israel’s most densely populated and financially active regions.