Zionist Union chief Isaac Herzog delivers a speech to supporters.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Zionist Union chief Isaac Herzog on Saturday refuted reports that he had secretly met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the possibility of forming a national unity government, insisting that his preference is to remain in the opposition.
“From our place in the opposition, we will unseat the Likud government in the future,” Herzog told a town hall meeting in Tel Aviv on Saturday. “Netanyahu will ultimately lead the country to a dead end.”
“Netanyahu needed to decide with whom he is going to form a coalition,” he said. “It’s clear to all that he prefers a rightist-religious government… He even said a number of times that Tzipi Livni and I represent an anti-Zionist faction.”
“In any event, no messages have been passed between us,” Herzog said. “I said after the election results came in that we were headed to the opposition. That’s not by default. That is our preference.”
The Zionist Union leader said that while he agreed with Netanyahu’s assessment that a nuclear Iran would pose a threat to Israel, he has reservations over the prime minister’s strategy of publicly lobbying against the agreement being negotiated between the West and the Islamic Republic.
“Our disagreement is the way this is being done,” Herzog said. “Clashing with the United States and the Western powers is bad for Israel, so we must do everything to alter the details of the emerging agreement in our favor.”
Herzog also called Netanyahu to task for stoking fears of Israel’s eminent extermination at the hands of Iran on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“I’m not at all willing to accept that on every Holocaust Remembrance Day the leader of this country says that we are headed toward the annihilation of the Jewish people,” he said. “That is fearmongering and sowing panic. We cannot underestimate the Iranian threat, but we also need to act responsibly and calmly and not say that Israel is liable to be an ephemeral entity because of this threat.”