(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
In his first interview after elections, Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog spoke to Army Radio Thursday morning about his defeat in the 20th Knesset elections and Israel's political outlook in light of the results.
Herzog said he had gone to bed around 2 a.m. Wednesday after polls had closed, believing his party had tied with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud, only to find out from a text message at 6:45 a.m. from his faction's co-leader Tzipi Livni of the reality that Likud had pulled ahead by at least five mandates.
Herzog stated that he was surprised by the Likud party's sweeping victory indicated by ballot counts Wednesday morning.
He told Army Radio that the Zionist Union's defeat was not due to a faulty campaign, rather that Netanyahu had exceeded expectations in securing the highest number of votes.
However, Herzog accused his rival of winning the election by lying and issuing statements and text messages warning against Israeli Arab voters coming to the polls
"The votes for Netanyahu rose late in the day in response to the warnings about Arab voters heading to the polls," he noted after the premier took to Facebook to encourage support from right-wing voters.
Herzog noted that the center-left was "a very big camp", and that the Zionist Union would seek to become the opposition
and challenge the new government.
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The current opposition leader stated that Israel will face the same challenge and the same problems with the incoming government as it did with the previous one.
"I'm don't want to clean up after him [Netanyahu]," Herzog told the radio station. "If the people want a far-right government for a limited time then we will challenge it. "
While refraining from expressing full conviction, Herzog told Army Radio that "he hoped" he would become prime minister one day. Tovah Lazaroff and Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.
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