Isaac Herzog Expected to Focus on Peace at Labor Convention

And the new party chairman is expected to avow: Labor won't join Netanyahu coalition.

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The Labor Party will convene on Sunday evening for its first major meeting since Isaac Herzog replaced Shelly Yacimovich as leader of the party.

It will be the new Labor chairman's first opportunity to present his agenda for the party in the coming years.

Herzog is expected to announce that he has no intention of joining the government of Benjamin Netanyahu in the near future, arguing that what the premier lacks is not Knesset support for the diplomatic process but backbone.

He is also expected to stress that the prime minister has a mandate for agreement, but needs to choose between the extreme right-wing of his party, represented by MKs Danny Danon, Miri Regev and Yariv Levin, and the Israeli and Zionist interest.

Herzog's associates say that he will throw down the gauntlet, challenging Netanyahu to march alongside the courageous leaders of the past, rather than limiting himself to the shallow vision of political survival.

In discussions with the prime minister following his election as Labor Party chairman, Herzog made it clear that Labor will support a diplomatic process in every possible way. He is likely to call on both Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to decide whether to imprison millions of people and their descendants in a hopeless present and future, with no exit, or to give both nations a life side-by-side.

In a reference  last month to the peace process, Herzog said that “Now the moment of truth has arrived - if Netanyahu is unable to make the historic decision he is requested to give up his place to someone who knows and understands the objective. If Netanyahu can’t do it, let him vacate his place for someone who can.”

“I’m telling you unequivocally: We have a partner for peace and we have an opportunity for peace," Herzog said at a conference in Tel Aviv. "The time has come to stop the weak and passive discourse that blames all our problems on the Palestinians.”

He added that “As someone who was cabinet secretary in the past, I know how much the Palestinian side was part of the failure, but let’s not discuss the past. We were elected in order to discuss the future and the present.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (right) shakes hands with Isaac Herzog, head of the Labor Party, in Ramallah, Dec. 1, 2013.Credit: Reuters

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