Netanyahu and Herzog.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST,REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog Sunday of undermining his efforts to prevent Iran’s nuclearization by declining to call a potentially nuclear Iran an existential threat to the State of Israel.
“I agree that a nuclear Iran is extremely dangerous, and I believe that it must be prevented,” Herzog said in an interview with Washington Post correspondents William Booth and Ruth Eglash. “No Israeli leader will accept a nuclear Iran. All options for me are still on the table,” including Israeli military strikes.
When they asked if he agrees with Netanyahu that a nuclear Iran would pose “an existential threat,” Herzog said: “It is a big threat. That’s enough.”
In the article, titled “Meet the underdog Israeli candidate who might dethrone King Bibi,” Herzog said he trusted US President Barack Obama to reach a good deal on Iran. The Likud said Herzog proved in the interview that, if elected, he would surrender to Obama and the international community. “While the prime minister works day and night to explain the significance of the threat Iran poses to Israel, the inexperienced Herzog harms Israel’s efforts to prevent a nuclear Iran for cynical political reasons,” the Likud said.
The Likud also put out a statement that appeared to blame Herzog’s No. 2, MK Tzipi Livni, for Sunday’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem. The statement referred to an interview she gave last month to The Jerusalem Post
’s Lahav Harkov.
“The attack in Jerusalem took place weeks after Tzipi Livni, Labor’s hidden candidate for prime minister, said she is ready to consider dividing Jerusalem,” the Likud statement said. “If Tzipi and Buji [Herzog’s nickname] form a left-wing government, Hamas will be in the heart of Jerusalem.”
The Zionist Union reacted with outrage, saying that Netanyahu stooped to a new low, and that he is responsible for the deterioration of security in Jerusalem. Party officials accused Netanyahu of trying to “take advantage of the terrorist attack in order to sow fear for his own personal political survival.”
They said a political upheaval is on the way, citing the Zionist Union’s victory at Blich High School in Ramat Gan, which has acted as a bellwether in the past. The school’s students voted for the Likud in 1977 ahead of that year’s election upheaval, correctly predicted changes of power in 1992 and 1996, and gave a boost to Yesh Atid in 2013.
The Zionist Union won 32 percent of the vote at Blich, compared to 28% for Yesh Atid, and 14% for Likud. A party spokesman said the Zionist Union had won elections in 41% of the 63 high schools in Israel that have had a vote.
“On March 17, the Israeli public will complete the upheaval that started with the young people,” a Zionist Union spokesman said.
Lidar Gravé-Lazi contributed to this report.