Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog and Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni announced they are running on a joint ticket in the election. This is an important and commendable step on the way to replacing Netanyahu’s government and the radical right’s rule.
Although a member of Netanyahu’s cabinet until she was fired, Livni consistently objected to the peace rejectionism and discrimination against Arabs that her fellow ministers advanced. Herzog dared for the first time in years to present an alternative to Netanyahu’s leadership.
The rotation the two announced for role of prime minister, if their merged slate is elected to form the next government, evoked disappointment among some Labor activists and venomous attacks from the right. However, this must not stop the move or cloud its essence – uniting forces in a bid to block Netanyahu and the extreme right.
Herzog and Livni united under the temporary name “the Zionist camp.” In the news conference they gave they focused on the failures of Netanyahu’s government in social affairs and its joining the extreme right. If they are to carry out their mission and keep their pledge, they must promise Israeli citizens in a more specific manner a change that does not involve only replacing the prime minister, but a new ideological order. Not only Netanyahu must be replaced, but the national priorities he set.
Herzog and Livni must promise their voters to suspend the construction in the West Bank settlements and stop the huge money transfers to the settlements. They must object to the legislation waves undermining the rule of law, like the amendment to the infiltration law that passed before the Knesset was dispersed. Also, they must enter into real peace negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, unlike the talks Livni had with the Palestinians when she was part of Netanyahu’s government.
These negotiations will be based on the core principles – setting borders, Jerusalem’s status, security arrangements and solving the refugee problem.
Herzog and Livni must also act to repair the historic injustice that the center and left parties have done to Israel’s Arabs. They must ensure not only the Arabs’ rights, which have come under unprecedented attack during Netanyahu’s rule, but also their integration among the policy makers. Only by so doing can they prove that they intend to make a real change rather than engage in another political spin.
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