Will the Real Isaac Herzog Please Stand Up?

Three and a half years ago the Zionist Union leader drew up a peace plan in which he proposed Israel’s immediate recognition of Palestine as an independent state.


It’s not worth wasting words on the supposed “zigzag” of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his position on the establishment of a Palestinian state. As Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich said at the Israel Conference on Peace held by Haaretz in July, “He can. He simply doesn’t want to. Accept it. He doesn’t want to.”

That said, the only remaining path to bringing the occupation beyond the Green Line to an end is forcibly removing Israel from the territories. The first, unavoidable step on this path is a UN Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian state on the basis of 1967 borders, together with a specified time frame for negotiations or international arbitration on the details. This is the highest interest of Jewish, democratic, moral and secure Israel. The international community must know that a large proportion of elected officials in Israel, and not only “the usual suspects” such as Meretz and the Joint List of Arab parties, support the immediate admission of Palestine to the United Nations. The heads of the Security Council member states must know that in the eyes of a central group within Israeli society, a vote for Palestine would not be considered an “anti-Israeli” or “anti-Semitic” act.

MK Isaac Herzog, the leader of a party that represents large parts of this group, understood long ago that if a Palestinian state is not established soon, Israel will become a pariah state. The son of the man who, on the rostrum of the UN General Assembly, tore up the “Zionism is racism” resolution, doesn’t need to work very hard to draft an appeal to the world powers to recognize Palestine. Three and a half years ago Herzog drew up a peace plan in which he proposed Israel’s immediate recognition of Palestine as an independent state. Then, too, the Netanyahu government was waging an aggressive diplomatic war against Palestinian initiatives, accompanied by threats against the Palestinian Authority.

Herzog proposed that a UN resolution recognizing Palestine be based on the following principles: the renewal of negotiations over a final-status agreement based on the parameters set out by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2000 and further developed by President Barack Obama in May 2011: two states based on the 1967 borders with territorial exchanges that would allow Israel to annex the settlement blocs and sites sacred to Judaism; recognition of the right to self-determination for both the Jews and the Palestinians (not necessarily Palestinian recognition of a Jewish state); an end to historical claims; and the implementation of security arrangements that will meet Israel’s needs. Herzog warned that Israeli rejection of such a UN resolution would lead to an outburst of violence in the territories, the deepening of Israel’s international isolation and weakening of its strategic position.

These important ideas appear in an article by Herzog published in Foreign Affairs in September 2011. A few days before the March 17 election, I asked him whether he still stood behind them. He said he did not remember the article, and asked me to send him the link so that he could answer my question. Apparently he was distracted by the rigors of the election campaign. Now that his schedule has freed up he should refresh his memory and follow the path he mapped out then. The campaign slogan, “It’s us or him” should be changed to “It’s his conflict or our solution.”

The author is the diplomatic analyst of Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse website.