Exclusive: Herzog, Livni put Israel's security at risk, Netanyahu says

PM denies reports he’d agree to rotation with Zionist Union, Livni: A leader should not scare his people.

March 12, 2015 06:46
3 minute read.
Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu . (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Israel’s security will be at great risk if Zionist Union leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni form the next government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in an interview with The Jerusalem Post that will be published in full in Friday’s newspaper.

Speaking at his Jerusalem residence following polls that indicated a growing lead for the Zionist Union, he said a loss by the Likud would mean that on both the Iranian and Palestinian fronts, the country’s policy would change completely to one of weakness.

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“Our security is at great risk because there is a real danger that we could lose this election,” he said. “If the gap between the Likud and Labor continues to grow, a week from now Herzog and Livni will become the prime ministers of Israel in rotation, with the backing of the Arab parties. That will cause such a monumental shift in policy that it is a danger, and anyone who wants to stop it has to vote Likud to narrow the gap. There is no privilege now to vote for other parties.” Netanyahu criticized Herzog and Livni for not supporting his speech to Congress about the Iranian nuclear threat, and for supporting concessions on the Palestinian front.

“They can’t stand up for a millisecond,” he said. “They have zero leadership. 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.”

Netanyahu said that he, unlike his opponents, had proven his capacity to withstand pressure and stand up for the interests of Israel in a careful and responsible way.

He said that capability would be especially necessary for facing the challenges expected in the months ahead.

“Yes, there will be pressures to withdraw to the [pre-]1967 lines and divide Jerusalem,” he said. “Yes, there will be pressures to relinquish our opposition to the Iranian deal.

If the gap between the Likud and Labor is not shrunk, then Buji [Herzog] and Tzipi will be here and, with the support of the Arabs, will capitulate on all fronts.”

He reiterated his opposition to the Zionist Union joining his coalition if he were to form the next government, even if all the right-wing and religious parties joined first.

He said he expected President Reuven Rivlin to decide who should form the next government based on which faction was largest and which candidate received the most recommendations from the Knesset’s factions.

Channel 10 quoted sources close to Netanyahu as saying Wednesday that if the Likud did not win more seats than the polls currently predict, a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office with the Zionist Union would not be ruled out.

Netanyahu’s associates denied the report, however, saying the prime minister firmly rejected any possibility of a rotation or any kind of unity government with Labor.

“The choice is between a nationalist Likud government under Netanyahu and a left-wing government under Tzipi and Herzog,” the Likud said in a statement. “The only rotation that there can be would be between Herzog and Livni if nationalist- camp voters don’t give enough mandates to the Likud.”

On Wednesday evening, the prime minister held a rally at Netanya’s Park Hotel in an effort to boost his support. The hotel was the site of the March 2002 “Passover Massacre,” in which a suicide bomber murdered 30 people and wounded 140.

Livni, meanwhile, criticized Netanyahu in a speech at the University of Haifa, saying that “the role of a leader is not to scare his people, but to make decisions and deal with threats.”

She will tour Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market Thursday with Herzog.

Herzog told the Knesset Channel Wednesday night that “it is already clear to everyone that I will replace Netanyahu.” He said Likud voters were drifting to his party, and that even though it would be difficult to form a government, he had the skills to do it.

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