Isaac Herzog Praises Netanyahu's Statements at Obama Meeting

Israeli opposition leader addresses General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America shortly after discussing Jerusalem and West Bank tensions with John Kerry.

Moti Milrod

Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conciliatory statements at his White House meeting on Monday, adding that he “hopes the declaration committing to a two-state solution will be translated into Hebrew - and into deeds as well.”

Herzog made his remarks at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in Washington, DC. His speech took place the day before Netanyahu himself was scheduled to address the gathering. 

The Israeli opposition leader arrived at the annual conference of American Jewish organizations following a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry. Herzog’s time with Kerry was sandwiched between Kerry’s joint meeting with Obama and Netanyahu at the White House Monday morning and an additional session scheduled with the Israeli Prime Minister on Tuesday. 

At a question and answer session following his speech, Herzog said that it had been important to him to meet with Kerry while he was in Washington because “there were some voices recently that were insulting that came out of Israel by someone who is a candidate for a high position in Netanyahu’s administration.” referring to the Ran Baratz affair.

“I wanted to tell John Kerry that he is a great respected friend of Israel,” said Herzog. “He cares about and loves Israel.” 

In their meeting, Herzog said that Kerry told him he wanted to continue the process he began of attempt to “calm down” tensions on the Temple Mount “and trying to find ways and means of starting a process with the Palestinians and I think we should commend him on that nobody thinks there will be a miraculous breakthrough (in Kerry’s meeting with Netanyahu) tomorrow but we have to create hope, we have to give hope  to the people. This is one of the worst periods in  the relationship between Jew and Arab in the Holy Land and we must change it. We must change that course. It is a dangerous course.”

In his address to the GA delegates, Herzog called on American Jews to partner with Israelis to fight against “zealotry, extremism and hate.” 

As Herzog was speaking at the Washington Hilton, Netanyahu was addressing the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank the afternoon following his White House visit, following up afterwards with a dinner at the conservative American Enterprise Institute where he was set to receive an award.