Opposition leader Isaac Herzog said Friday night that he believes he will be Israel's next prime minister.
"I will form the next coalition and lead Israel in a new direction," said Herzog, who said that all partners are possible in his coalition from left-wing Meretz to the right-wing Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. The scope of Herzog's possible coalition included Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as long as he plays by Herzog's parameters.
Herzog, speaking at the Saban Forum at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C, echoed Former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni's words, saying the upcoming elections will be about extremism vs. Zionism, perhaps implying their impending unity.
Whether or not Israel will "skid dangerously toward becoming an extreme state," is a key question of the elections, according to Herzog.
Though Herzog said he would not criticize Netanyahu abroad, he did critique the current right-wing government, saying "The easiest thing in the world is to build on fear. My adversaries, especially on the Right, prey on this."
Speaking about the recent spate of terror attacks in Israel, Herzog categorically condemned the violence, but said Israel must strive to understand the lack of hope in Palestinian society that is the impetus for such attacks.
"It cannot be that mothers and fathers in the other side do not want peace," he said. "We have to try and understand."
Speaking about the controversial "Jewish state" bill
, which has received criticism for discriminating against non-Jews in Israel, Herzog said, "Within Israel, all citizens must feel equal. The way a majority treats a minority is essential to a country."
Herzog made clear that he was committed to a two-state solution, saying "it is possible, absolutely possible, to make peace with Palestinians," stressing that he has been in dialogue with the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, and believes they can reach an agreement together.
As to the parameters of the two states, Herzog said he believed the major settlement blocs, such as Gush Etzion, would need to remain a part of Israel, but that freezing settlements outside the settlement blocs as a confidence building measure in part of a larger negotiating initiative was a possibility.
As to the openly terse tensions between the US and Israel, Herzog said, "If we argue, we need to do it behind closed doors. The US is our closest ally...We can't, in this era, dwell alone."
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also spoke Friday at the Saban Forum about Israel-US relations. Clinton advised to "forget about the press coverage:look at the close cooperation and what this administration has done with respect to Israel's security," including the US funding for Israel's Iron Dome System.
"No one can argue with this administrations commitment to Israel," said Clinton, adding that "We are two raucous democracies, and sometimes we get carried away."