Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog speaks to the press.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog ended speculation that he could be en route to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government Sunday when he told a Labor convention in Jaffa that his dream was to become prime minister and not any other post.
The speculation began following a meeting with Netanyahu in which Herzog committed himself to aiding the prime minister’s effort to persuade Congress against the Iranian nuclear deal. It continued with reports that President Reuven Rivlin was helping mediate between Likud and the Zionist Union in attempts to form a unity government.
The speech at the convention was intended to silence Labor MKs who had become increasingly vocal in criticizing Herzog for not firmly ruling out joining the government. “This government must be replaced,” Herzog said. “It should not be given a life rope or a hand. It must be replaced today, tomorrow, as soon as possible. Netanyahu must be replaced. He must be sent home! Home!” But Herzog added a caveat that his party would only be able to return to power when it proves to the public that it puts the state and its security above political considerations.
Knesset backlash over Iran deal
Herzog criticized Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid for the way he has criticized a Netanyahu-led government shortly after he was one of Netanyahu’s top ministers. He called upon Yesh Atid to cooperate with him in bringing down the government and presenting an alternative.
At a Tel Aviv press conference Sunday, Lapid accused Netanyahu of harming relations with the US and being responsible for the deal with Iran not being better. He asked Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi to have the committee probe Netanyahu’s failure to prevent the deal.
The Likud responded to Herzog and Lapid that “at a time when the prime minister is leading an international effort on every front to prevent the nuclearization of Iran, the opposition prefers to stoop to narrow politics to try to win applause at party conventions.”
At the Labor convention, the party decided to delay a decision on when the next Labor leadership will be held. The matter will not be discussed in the party’s institutions for at least the next three months.
There was a showdown at the convention between Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund chairman Effi Stenzler and MK Eitan Cabel, who wants to replace him. When Cabel called Stenzler unfit to head the organization due to negative reports and allegations against him, Stenzler responded it was Cabel who was corrupt.
Stenzler said that in a private conversation a month ago Cabel told him he was the best candidate for the post and he would support him if he gave a job to Cabel’s brother. Cabel responded by grabbing the microphone and calling Stenzler a liar.
The convention approved a compromise that would start a process aimed at enabling the selection of Labor’s candidate for KKL-JNF chairman by an October deadline.