Netanyahu, Herzog Trade Barbs Over Plan for Separating From Palestinians

In Knesset debate, prime minister mocks Herzog for saying two-state solution was impossible. 'Maybe you're beginning to understand where we live,' he says; Herzog retorts: 'Annex the territories. Let's see what happens then.'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, February 10, 2016.
Olivieh Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Zionist Union leader MK Isaac Herzog traded barbs on Wednesday at a Knesset debate over Herzog's separation plan from the Palestinians.

Netanyahu mocked Herzog for stating that the two-state solution was impossible to realize in the current circumstances. Speaking in the Knesset plenum, Netanyahu said he himself said similar things about a year ago.

"On Sunday Labor Party members stated that the two states for two peoples agreement cannot be implemented in the current situation. Good morning Boojie, I'm glad you've woken up. Good morning Labor, welcome to the Middle East. The alarm clock has rung and maybe you're beginning to understand where we live," Netanyahu said, using Herzog's nickname.

"Better late than never," Netanyahu went on. "But how can your judgement be trusted to deal with the threats around us, when you're years late in understanding what's going on here? A year ago you said, Boojie 'Tzipi and I will make it clear to the Arabs that the one-sided game is over.' This week you said one-sided steps were required. Decide what you want but for God's sake – try to stick to it for at least a week."

"If you'd understood earlier what you appear to understand today, you'd stand beside us instead of slandering us in the world," Netanyahu said.

Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, February 10, 2016.
Olivieh Fitoussi

Herzog blasted Netanyahu for failing to deal with terrorism and for making promises he couldn't keep. "You promised you're Mr. Security, strong against terrorism, you promised to finish off Hamas, you promised the earth. What of this did you keep? Nothing, zero," he said.

Referring to Netanyahu's chide that he had said the same last year, Herzog said "I know the far right disagrees with me. The far right thinks annexing the territories with their Palestinian residents is the solution," Herzog said. "Well, who stopped you? You set up a purely rightist government. What are you afraid of? Bibi, Bennett, Ariel, Smotrich, Elkin, Levin, Hotovely, what are you, nerds? Annex the territories. Let's see what happens then."

Herzog said Labor has a different vision. "The two state vision isn't dead. But it won't happen tomorrow, certainly not as long as you, Mr. Netanyahu and [Palestinian President] Abu Mazen are afraid to make a move."

"You don't want to separate from the Palestinians," Herzog said to Netanyahu. "You're afraid of Bennett and Elkin. This government hasn't the guts or the will to separate from the Palestinians, as I propose in my plan. With this government, the Palestinians will continue being among us."

Meretz leader MK Zehava Galon also lashed out at Herzog in the debate, which had been called by the opposition.

"The opposition leader is encouraging the prime minister with declarations about having no confidence in dialogue with the Palestinians. His new plan will be seen in the world as perpetuating the occupation," Galon said.

"For years the prime minister has been giving us a traveling show of zero leadership. He suggests surrounding ourselves with walls and fences, which mean annexing 150,000 Palestinians," she said.