The Likud will replace its chairman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and join a national unity government if Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog forms a coalition, Herzog predicted on Wednesday in an interview with The Jerusalem Post’s Election Arena, a series of video interviews with candidates.
Herzog was asked whom he would call first if he won the March 17 election and President Reuven Rivlin tasked him with forming a government.
“There are actually a few good alternatives,” Herzog said. “Centrist parties should be the center of the coalition.
But I don’t rule out at all the Likud joining my government.
I’ve said all Zionist parties can be part of my coalition, from Meretz to [Yisrael Beytenu], which compasses the Likud.”
When asked if he sees Netanyahu becoming his foreign minister, he said that “under such circumstances, the Likud would probably replace Netanyahu [as its chairman].”
If he forms the government, Herzog said he would turn to the Palestinian leaders and ask them to return to the negotiating table, while receiving help from moderate Arab states.
“I may find a leadership that is still locked into their feeling that they are justified in taking unilateral steps,” he said. “I think that’s very dangerous. I think these steps are out of the question and I would fight them. I want to tilt the balance using regional partners like Egypt and Jordan, who would be catalysts for moving on in the process and helping my Palestinian partners and me build mutual confidence.”
When asked if he supports dividing Jerusalem, Herzog said he wants a unified city. But in a video interview with the Post’s Hebrew sister publication, Ma’ariv, minutes earlier, he said he would accept with changes the Geneva Initiative, in which Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem would become the capital of a Palestinian state.
In that interview, he downplayed problems inside the Zionist Union campaign, saying that “every organization has its tensions, and it is being dealt with.”
Herzog spoke a day after he began the process of firing the strategists who were advising his campaign. Labor began a negative advertising campaign with new strategists on Wednesday.
One advertisement refers to Thursday’s premier of the movie Fifty Shades of Grey. It contrasts “Fifty Shades of Black” if Netanyahu is elected, compared to “Fifty Shades of Hope” if Herzog forms a government.
“He buys NIS 10,000 of ice cream while you don’t have enough for cottage cheese,” another new campaign advertisement says.
“Only a sucker votes Netanyahu.”