Herzog’s Conditions for Joining Coalition Posted Briefly on Facebook

Zionist Union leader’s bureau attributes post to clerical error by staffer, but one MK doubts this, calling list of conditions ‘embarrassing.’

Isaac Herzog, April 18, 2016.
Ilan Assayag

A post bearing the Zionist Union’s conditions for joining the coalition was posted on party chairman Isaac Herzog’s Facebook page and then withdrawn shortly thereafter. Herzog’s associates said on Friday that this was the initiative of one of his staffers, who did so without his knowledge. Knesset members who spoke with Herzog were also convinced that he did not know about the posting beforehand.

The post, bearing Herzog’s photo, contained six conditions for the party’s inclusion in the government: a reduction in the cost of living, involvement in decisions relating to plans for the offshore natural gas fields, receiving authority for contending with an international boycott of Israel, protection of the Supreme Court, repealing or preventing legislation of racist laws and the launching of negotiations with regional states, while implementing a policy of separation from the Palestinians, as proposed earlier by Herzog.

“There are no hands at the helm. There is no unity government,” concluded the written statement. Herzog’s bureau rushed to issue a clarification, according to which the posting was the result of an error by a staff member, after which it was hastily removed from Herzog’s Facebook page. Another source in Zionist Union said that “this was no mistake. There was a decision to post it and then someone regretted it.”

MK Miki Rosenthal assailed his party’s leader on his own Facebook page: “The tremendous damage wrought by Bougie [Herzog’s nickname] is irreversible as long as he’s at the top.” He accused Herzog of “abandoning his voters and showing contempt for public interests for the sake of salvaging the political career of one politician.”

One MK was suspicious of the claim that the posting was the result of a staffer’s whim, further criticizing the list of conditions, which was similar to a posting by Herzog a day earlier. He called this “an embarrassing list. Most of these conditions were already promised to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. They include lowering the cost of living, protecting the Supreme Court and putting up barriers against racist legislation. Netanyahu should have no problem in acceding to these conditions. In contrast, all our basic demands that should be self-evident are not on that list: a construction freeze in the settlements, legislation of a law tying territorial withdrawal to compensation, and even a declaration proposing two states for two nations or a commitment to renew diplomatic negotiations. Herzog isn’t even insisting on obtaining a veto right regarding the natural gas plans, only demanding ‘involvement’ in the process.”

There were also voices in Likud opposed to admitting the Zionist Union into the coalition, after it turned out that the chances of this happening were slim. Minister Zeev Elkin said that such a move could pull the government toward policies deemed as leftist, which would drive Habayit Hayehudi out of the coalition. “Bougie and his associates will try to rehabilitate the trust of the left and retroactively justify their joining the coalition. Thus, they will constantly try to pull us to the left, demanding a price: one more leftist gain, otherwise they’ll whine and threaten that they won’t be able to stay and still retain their members,” Elkin wrote on his Facebook page.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely wrote: “‘It’s us or them’ wasn’t just an election slogan. These words reflect gaps in our worldviews. The public elected us and we should use this mandate and lead the national camp according to the agenda that led to our victory. The Zionist Union is a party that’s on the road to disintegration. The coalition doesn’t need them and there’s no reason for us to throw Herzog a lifeline.”