Labor leader Isaac Herzog..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Negotiations have reached a peak in which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must decide if they really want peace, opposition leader Isaac Herzog said Thursday evening.
Referring to Netanyahu's meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Davos planned for Friday, Herzog said "Netanyahu and Abbas must decide whether they will move toward peace or blink, retract and lead us to adverse developments."
"Both American and Israeli leaders have seen this picture before," Herzog added. "Time and again, talks come to this point."
The opposition leader said both sides have to make a genuine, bold effort for peace.
"It's not easy for anyone. It's not easy for Netanyahu; not in his party. I'm not sure he has the courage [to take bold steps], but I'm trying to encourage him to do so," Herzog said.
As for those who blame the Palestinians for peace talks, Herzog said "the other side could drive us crazy, but we inherited this [situation] and we have to deal with it."
"Our future has to be in peace with our neighbors," he stated. "A deal must be reached...We must look beyond this settlement bloc or that."
If no agreement is reached, Herzog warned, countries around the world will take unilateral action to punish Israel.
"People in the business world and the legal world have already taken dangerous steps," Herzog said.
The opposition leader spoke to an audience of nearly 200 at an event for alumni of the Ramaz Upper School in Manhattan who live in Israel. Herzog attended the school while his father was ambassador to the UN and said he was "bitten by the political bug" when he successfully ran for Vice President of the student government; he was also editor of the 1978 yearbook.
He also commended Ramaz for teaching a more moderate form of Orthodox Judaism, which he said is harder to find in Israel, and for nurturing students' connection to Zionism.