Herzog Doubts Netanyahu’s Courage

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -
Labor Chairman Isaac Herzog. (Flash 90)
Labor Chairman Isaac Herzog. (Flash 90)

Israel’s opposition leader said Tuesday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu fully appreciates the wisdom of making peace with the Palestinians. He’s just not sure he has the courage to see it through.

Isaac Herzog, who was elected head of the Labor Party in November, said that his ultimate goal is to replace Netanyahu. But he said he would back the prime minister if he genuinely pursues peace with the Palestinians and offered a political “safety net” should Netanyahu’s coalition rebel in case of substantial progress in peace talks.

As opposition leader, Herzog meets privately at least once a month with Netanyahu. Asked about the talks, Herzog said he has found a leader who “understands the real risks” Israel faces without a peace deal. At the same time, he said he wasn’t sure Netanyahu “has the guts to do it.”

“I am not sure that he has the political ability or that he feels he has the political ability,” he told a group of foreign journalists. “I am trying to encourage him to be bold enough to take those steps.” He declined to discuss specifics, saying the talks are private.

Herzog said there was a “unique” and “golden opportunity” to reach peace at this time, and his party will support such moves.

“However, if we will be unfortunate and there will be no progress, I definitely see that we will replace the government and quicker than people project,” he said. “He [Netanyahu] has to decide if he is a leader or a politician.”