Opposition leader Isaac Herzog declared at a press conference on Wednesday night that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has “made an historic mistake” by choosing to bring Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu into the coalition rather than his Zionist Camp party.
Herzog said that the talks with Netanyahu broke down when he insisted on putting a commitment to the two-state solution in writing, which Netanyahu refused to do, saying that it would have to remain a verbal agreement. “I don’t believe in verbal [agreements],” Herzog said.
He further claimed that he had secured a number of important concessions from the prime minister including a veto on building in Yehudah and Shomron, the opening of a regional peace conference, the Foreign Ministry and other ministerial posts, along with a series of social and economic measures, on joining the coalition.
Addressing accusations from within his Zionist Camp party that Netanyahu used him in order to entice Liberman into the coalition, Herzog insisted that “Netanyahu did not use me. We conducted deep, intensive negotiations. He had a choice to make, and he made an historic mistake.”
The nationally broadcast press conference was turned into a stage for unpleasant intra-party recriminations, as Herzog blamed his primary antagonist, MK Shelly Yacimovich, for the outcome.
“She is responsible for Liberman becoming defense minister,” Herzog said. “She made Labor into a left-wing extremist party. Israeli citizens will now have to deal with a government whose policies are borderline crazy.”
Yacimovich retorted later in the evening that Herzog had lied about her wanting to enter Netanyahu’s cabinet. She claimed that she had succeeded in “preventing the shameful crawling into the government” and had “saved the party from suicide.”
The conference came just six hours after he declared that he would not carry on parallel talks with Netanyahu while the latter was negotiating with Liberman, and soon after the announcement of the deal between Netanyahu and Liberman.
Herzog said he had ceased negotiations with Netanyahu as of Tuesday night.