Israel's New Opposition Chief Tells Abbas His Party Will Support Future Peace Deal

Isaac Herzog encourages Palestinian president to meet with Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel's new opposition leader says he told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday that a clear majority in Israel supports a peace deal with the Palestinians and that his Labor Party will back any future agreement.

Isaac Herzog was elected Labor leader on November 21, replacing a party chief who had made domestic issues such as economic inequality a chief concern. Herzog's meeting with Abbas on Sunday signaled a shift back to Labor's traditional priorities. In the 1990s, Labor led Israel into ultimately unsuccessful negotiations on the terms of a Palestinian state.

Talks resumed in July, but there has been no apparent progress. Tensions are high over Israel's continued settlement building on lands sought for a Palestinian state.

Herzog says Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should meet to advance negotiations.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has called on Herzog to form a political alliance with her Hatnua party in order to counter the alliance between Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and Habayit Hayehudi chief Naftali Bennett.

Livni said the alliance she is proposing would demonstrate to Netanyahu the parties' support for peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

"We are still paying the price for the alliance between 'the brothers' Yair [Lapid] and Bennett," she said. "So let's form a new alliance – an ideological alliance for a political solution."

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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