Herzog and Netanyahu.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Could the nuclear deal reached in Switzerland on Thursday help bring the Likud and the Zionist Union closer to sitting together in a national unity government? No, say top officials in the two parties, despite developments over the weekend that were interpreted as signs that cooperation between the two parties could be on the way.
The Zionist Union issued a press release on Thursday night criticizing the deal. Faction chairman Eitan Cabel went further in a Facebook post on Sunday afternoon criticizing the man seen as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nemesis, US President Barack Obama.
“I refuse to join those applauding the agreement with Iran, because the truth is it keeps me awake at night,” Cabel wrote. “President Obama promises that if the Iranians cheat, the world will know, but isn’t that exactly what the Americans promised after the agreement with North Korea?” He said that when it comes to Iran, there is no Left or Right or coalition or opposition in Israel, only Israelis.
“When a crazy religious regime with a proven track record of terrorism and cheating receives permission to get that close to a nuclear bomb, I am very worried,” Cabel wrote, and then adding more criticism of Obama. “The fact that the man who is in charge of making sure the deal won’t be broken has a proven record of mocking his own redlines, makes me even more worried.”
Cabel stressed that it was only about this specific issue, but in rare praise for the prime minister, he wrote that he is “standing behind Netanyahu.”
He called Netanyahu’s effort against the agreement “a correct struggle.”
Haaretz editor Aluf Benn noted on Sunday that Netanyahu’s call for the international community to condition an Iran deal on the Islamic Republic recognizing Israel’s right to exist was taken directly from Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog’s campaign rhetoric. He suggested that gesture may have been intended by Netanyahu to persuade him to become his foreign minister.
But Herzog’s associates said he was not taking Netanyahu’s words too seriously. They also said they did not interpret Cabel’s Facebook post as a sign he was warming to a unity government.
“There is no advancement whatsoever toward a unity deal,” a source close to Herzog said.
A source in the Likud negotiating team also said he did not see Netanyahu’s words as a gesture to Herzog. Asked why talks were only progressing with parties that would be able to enter a coalition with the Zionist Union, he said that was not true and that headway was being made with Bayit Yehudi.
The Likud’s and Bayit Yehudi’s coalition negotiating teams will meet for the third time on Monday.