(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog has not yet decided whether to accept an invitation from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to speak at its policy conference in Washington two weeks before the March 17 election, Herzog said Monday in a meeting with Jerusalem Post staff.
Herzog said he would wait and see whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu follows through with the commitment he made not to cancel his controversial speech to Congress which has caused international tension.
“I don’t want to be part of the farce,” Herzog said. “I will wait to see the outcome [of what Netanyahu does]. In the Middle East things are decided at the last moment.”
While he said he was sure he would form a coalition after the March 17 election, he declined to reveal how far he would go to bring haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties into the coalition regarding concessions on conscription.
Herzog said the Labor Party has been a victim of a “campaign of lies” that has besmirched the party’s candidates and painted them unfairly as extreme Left. He said Labor has its doves but described himself as a “hawk” within the party along with MKs Eitan Cabel, Omer Bar- Lev, and candidate Danny Atar.
Answering a question from Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief Steve Linde, he said the biggest challenges facing Israel today are providing equality for all, respecting sectors in Israeli society and giving them a sense of purpose, as well as international challenges such as maintaining strategic relations with the US.
“We are faced with seclusion and boycotts from the international community,” he said.
“We have to turn the tide by operating boldly.”
The Zionist Union changed its position Monday on disqualifying Balad MK Haneen Zoabi from running for Knesset. Thursday the party released a statement saying it would support preventing Zoabi from running in the Central Elections Committee.
But the party backtracked Monday.
“We will wait to decide until later in the week to see what the attorney-general says about what [Zoabi] said and did,” Herzog’s No. 2, MK Tzipi Livni, said.
Army Radio reported that the policy was changed because Arab MKs threatened that they would not recommend to President Reuven Rivlin that Herzog form the next coalition.