Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should take advantage of the weakening of Hamas and the strengthening of moderates in the region at the end of Operation Protective Edge to initiate a diplomatic maneuver, opposition leader Isaac Herzog said Sunday.
Speaking to Army Radio, Herzog said the operation in the Gaza Strip had proven false the conception that there was a military solution to the conflict with the Palestinians. He said there must be a diplomatic move to achieve Netanyahu’s goals of demilitarizing the Gaza Strip and preventing future military tension.
“Now that the troops have withdrawn, the prime minister must show diplomatic courage,” Herzog said. “There is a one-time diplomatic opportunity.
The prime minister must show courage. If he does, of course he will receive a safety net [from Labor].”
Herzog stopped short of saying that he would consider having his party enter Netanyahu’s coalition. The opposition leader raised speculation when he defended the IDF operation in the foreign press and to some 50 diplomats at Labor’s Tel Aviv headquarters on Friday.
At his press conference Saturday night, Netanyahu said one of Israel’s achievements in Operation Protective Edge was the support of moderate elements in the region, which he said would surprise many, and which would be expanded after the campaign ends.
Though he did not mention any countries by name, this is believed to be in reference to cooperation with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan – all of which have an interest, as does Israel, in dealing a severe blow to Hamas.
Netanyahu said this regional cooperation is a “very important asset” for Israel.
“At the end of the battle and the operation, it will open many new possibilities for us,” he said.
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said Netanyahu was not referring to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“The prime minister did not praise Abbas,” he said Sunday. “There are other elements in the region. Abbas is pushing another Goldstone Report in Geneva.”
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