Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Opposition leader Isaac Herzog sparred over issues of national security and peacemaking on Wednesday.
Netanyahu taunted Herzog for his belated recognition that “the two-state solution cannot be implemented” at this time.
“Good morning, Buji,” he called from the podium of the Knesset plenum, addressing Herzog by his Hebrew nickname. “Welcome to the Middle East.”
The sarcastic wakeup call was prompted by a Labor Party vote on Sunday to endorse Herzog’s plan to separate from the Palestinians. Herzog has explained that separation is the only option at present, since the two-state solution is, for the time being, unattainable.
“The two-state vision did not die, but it will not happen tomorrow,” Herzog told the crowd. “What can be achieved today is security for the citizens of Israel and separation between us and the Palestinians, with actions, not mere words.”
Herzog, for his part, took a swipe at Netanyahu for his declaration on Tuesday that Israel must build a fence “surrounding the whole country.” “In the neighborhood in which we live we need to protect ourselves from predatory beasts,” the prime minister said.
The opposition leader asked sardonically at a meeting with foreign journalists on Wednesday whether “Netanyahu wants to become Herzog” by also speaking about building fences to separate the two peoples.
Herzog told the reporters thatone has to be realistic. “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.”
Herzog’s plan calls for preserving the main “settlement blocs” in Yehudah and Shomron with a security barrier, with the understanding that land swaps could be negotiated later.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s fencemaking remarks were condemned by Palestinian official Saeb Erekat, who compared them the Bantustan system in South Africa, and added that “building fences means living according to the law of the jungle.”