Herzog and Gal-On.
(photo credit: REUTERS,MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Four bills to disperse the Knesset and call a early election were voted down Wednesday, as opposition MKs used the opportunity to fight among themselves.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal- On said she was embarrassed to hear recent comments by opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) that a two-state solution is not viable in the short term.
“Buji, you are not my opposition leader,” Gal-On said, using Herzog’s nickname. “At this time, when the public needs nothing more than hope, than an alternative to [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s lack of a solution, you are giving up on the two- state solution? You’re calling the peace process just talk?” Gal-On accused Herzog of “forgetting the meaning of being the opposition” because he is too busy “trying to gather votes from the Right.”
The Meretz chairwoman also took issue with what she said was Herzog’s making an equivalence between her party and the far Right.
“I won’t let you slander Meretz....There is no symmetry between the Right and the Left; there is no symmetry between the murderers of babies and Meretz or human rights organizations.
I remind you that ideological murderers came from a very specific area in Israel, in the Right’s backyard, not the Left’s, never the Left’s,” she said.
Gal-On ignored shouting from Likud MK Yoav Kisch about Ezra Nawi, an activist who worked for left-wing NGOs like Rabbis for Human Rights and Breaking the Silence, among others, who was caught on tape bragging about turning Palestinians in to the Palestinian Authority to be killed.
The Meretz leader’s speech came the day after Channel 2 News broadcast an expletive-laden recording of Labor secretary-general Hilik Bar criticizing Herzog’s statements as “unnecessary, dangerous and delusional,” though the two were all smiles and friendly to one another in the plenum.
Herzog defended his plan in the Knesset.
“I call on the citizens of the state to come and change the direction the country is in. We must start urgently, and first and foremost, what I was talking about is a separation from the Palestinians to ensure the implementation of the vision of two states. To ensure the Jewish state will exist, there is no choice but to take steps that will separate us from them and to stop the dangerous slide toward one state for two peoples,” he said.
Herzog added that “in order to separate from the Palestinians, we have to separate from Netanyahu.”
“Netanyahu and [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] together are unable to reach an agreement, which is why, in the interim period until we reach our dream, there is no choice but to separate and take steps for our security,” he stated.
As for Gal-On, Herzog said she is right that “there is no hope and no vision, but there is no vision because of the prime minister and his government.”
The opposition leader accused Gal-On of “repeating slogans from the ’90s” and said that she should be more connected to reality.
“I’m aware that you’re to our left and that you take stances to our left, but in the end, I am dealing with the reality of citizens of our country who see terrorism and are looking for hope in practical steps that will bring them security and separation. You can’t teach me and our party how to fight for peace and how to be Israeli patriots,” Herzog said.
Meretz and Zionist Union’s bills to disperse the Knesset, as well two more from the Joint List, were rejected by margins of four to six votes.
Earlier this week, the opposition tabled the bills to challenge the coalition as two MKs – Oren Hazan of the Likud and Bezalel Smotrich of Bayit Yehudi – announced they would not vote with the coalition, in protest over Jewish families being evacuated from a home in Hebron, which they claimed they purchased legally, while Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said they did not provide the necessary documentation.
However, by Wednesday, Smotrich and Hazan went back to voting with the coalition, saying they trusted that Netanyahu would keep his word and allow the families back into the Hebron home if they went through the necessary bureaucratic process.