Herzog: Netanyahu Humiliated Israeli Arabs to Garner Votes

In series of meetings and TV interviews, Zionist Union leader says the prime minister's rhetoric on Israeli Arabs ahead of election was 'fraudulent and racist. And it worked.'

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Zionist Union's Isaac Herzog and Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu
Zionist Union's Isaac Herzog and Likud's Benjamin NetanyahuCredit: Reuters
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Isaac Herzog slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday in a series of meetings and TV interviews for his comments ahead of Israel's election last week that Arabs were "going out in droves" to vote.

The Zionist Union chairman, who last week lost the 20th Knesset election to Netanyahu's Likud by six seats, said during several meetings he held on Saturday that Netanyahu "humiliated 20 percent of Israeli citizens for the sake of his election campaign" with those remarks. "His first action must be to repair his ways - and not in empty words - and the severe fissure he has caused in doing so. He has to do everything to turn them into citizens with equal rights.”

Herzog also said that, “Judaism always knew to respect foreigners and those who are different, and in his harsh words against one-fifth of Israeli citizens he has harmed Jewish ethics and continued to tear and dismantle the human mosaic that makes up Israeli society,” adding that “words of appeasement from his spokesman will not help to seal the wound he has opened.”

Meanwhile, in interviews with the three national television channels 1, 2 and 10, which were broadcast on Saturday evening, Herzog also addressed Netanyahu's remarks, saying they were "the most fraudulent and racist utterances that exist."

Speaking to Channel 10, Herzog also recounted how he went to sleep on election night at 2 A.M. with the polls showing a tie between the Zionist Union and Likud, only to awake at 6:30 Wednesday morning to a six-seat deficit after most of the actual votes had been tallied.

Herzog described his reaction to the various exit polls on Channel 2. "When I saw the tie, I thought I could form a coalition. I had been in touch with the heads of all the parties in advance and we discussed various options - and it seemed Netanyahu had no way of assembling a block."

“At 7 A.M. a text message arrived from Tzipi Livni,” he told Channel 10. “Then I turned the television on. I told [his wife] Michal that something dramatic had happened overnight. I always remain calm in such situations.”

Asked what he learned from the election results, Herzog said: “There is a rightist public that is deeply connected to Likud that Netanyahu reached in the final days. He used the most fraudulent and racist utterances that exist. And it worked." Herzog added that "something should be learned from the principal motif that caused this process. He more or less defined half the nation as traitors. That’s the rhetoric.”

Also on Channel 2, Herzog that he still hopes to become Israel's prime minister one day.

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