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ZIONIST UNION leader Isaac Herzog speaks at an event hosted by ‘The Jerusalem Post’ Knesset reporter Lahav Harkov in Tel Aviv.(Photo by: BENJI LOVITT)
Herzog: I don’t say the word ‘peace’ so I don’t raise expectations
By Gil Stern Stern HOFFMAN
Zionist Union leader addresses English-speaking crowd at campaign event in Tel Aviv.
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog explained why he never says the word “peace” in any of his campaign events for the first time Sunday at a Tel Aviv International Salon event hosted by The Jerusalem Post’s Lahav Harkov.

When she asked why the word had left his lexicon, he said he was one of the last people to speak to prime minister Yitzhak Rabin before he was assassinated and he had not given up his hope to achieve peace.

“I definitely yearn for peace,” he said. “Clearly this is the dream. But we have to be realistic and not naive about it. I don’t want to build expectations. I just want to do my best and move on.”

Herzog said he would try to reignite a process using Egyptian and Jordanian support but that ultimately he wants to negotiate directly with the Palestinians, and that he is ready to go to Ramallah to try to reach a deal.

“It will be my role to change the lack of trust between the leaders and peoples,” he said. “I don’t believe in any unilateral withdrawal. The lessons from Gaza are learned.”

When asked what land he would keep, he said that “in the ideal world, I would like to keep it all.” He said he would keep the Gush Etzion, Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel blocs, and that the Jordan River would be his security border.

Herzog criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for “causing friction with our only real staunch strategic ally,” the United States. He said one of his goals for his first 100 days in office would be to restore trust with Washington.

Likud MK Yariv Levin criticized Herzog Sunday for attacking Netanyahu in the foreign press, including an op-ed he published in The New York Times and an interview with Fareed Zakaria on CN. Herzog rejected the criticism, telling Harkov that there was no problem with speaking his mind.

“These are issues that cross the ocean,” he said. “I said in both CN and The New York Times that there is daylight between Netanyahu and I on security issues. I don’t think a divisive speech that interferes in American politics furthers Israel’s cause.”

Channel 10 reported that Zionist Union MKs Shelly Yacimovich, Stav Shaffir and Amir Peretz were already coordinating strategy to oppose Herzog trying to take the party into a coalition led by Netanyahu after the election.

Herzog called himself “a true Anglo,” telling the crowd his family’s history. He thanked the crowd for making aliya.

“Most of the public is unaware of the untold story of English-speaking immigrants from around the world,” he said.
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