Likud ready to wait for Herzog after Labor race

Talks between Netanyahu and Herzog broke down after Herzog did not succeed in persuading enough of his party's MKs to join the coalition.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog speaks at a Limmud FSU gathering at Kibbutz Ginosar, December 18, 2015 (photo credit: ANDREY DEVEIKIN)
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog speaks at a Limmud FSU gathering at Kibbutz Ginosar, December 18, 2015
(photo credit: ANDREY DEVEIKIN)
After failing to bring the entire Zionist Union into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and not succeeding in splitting the faction and taking part of it, Likud officials have a new goal: Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog by himself.
Talks between Netanyahu and Herzog broke down after Herzog did not succeed in persuading enough of his party's MKs to join the coalition. The prime minister made a deal with Yisrael Beytenu instead, but he never stopped his effort to lure Herzog into the government.
The Israel Hayom newspaper that is considered pro-Netanyahu reported Friday that the Likud was trying to break up the Zionist Union faction by offering portfolios and other posts to the eight MKs required by law to split a 24 MK faction. Those efforts have not succeeded either.
Senior Likud officials revealed exclusively to The Jerusalem Post Sunday that the new idea is to seek Herzog to come alone. They said that after Yisrael Beytenu joined the government, there is no longer a shortage of MKs in the coalition.
What Netanyahu is seeking now is the international legitimacy that a respected dove of Herzog's caliber could provide. For that, the Likud is willing to be patient.
"We can wait," a senior Likud official close to Netanyahu said. "He might come later. Our door is open for him to come when it suits him." Herzog asked Labor secretary-general Hilik Bar to reach a compromise date for the next Labor leadership primary by the end of this week. Herzog's potential opponents want the race to be held as soon as possible, while he has indicated that he wants it as late as possible.
If Herzog will agree to hold the race at the earliest possible date, in August, and he - as expected - loses, Likud officials said he could quit the Knesset and be appointed foreign minister as a professional appointee.
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Herzog could already be foreign minister in time for the UN General Assembly in September. His father, former president Chaim Herzog, famously ripped a resolution that called Zionism racism when he was ambassador to the UN.
He would also be in place for the diplomatic challenges expected during the time between the US election in November and the inauguration of the new president in January. Herzog's office responded that the idea is "delusional and ridiculous."
"Herzog is the chairman of the Zionist Union and the Labor party, and he has no intention of moving or changing his status," his office said in the statement.