TEL AVIV – Israel’s Labor party voted Sunday in support of leader Isaac Herzog’s plan calling for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, the Jerusalem Post reported.
“The two-state vision did not die, but it will not happen tomorrow,” Herzog told the crowd. “What can be achieved today is security for the citizens of Israel and separation between us and the Palestinians with actions, not mere words.”
Herzog’s plan includes completing the security fence around settlement blocs. Settlers from isolated communities would be evacuated and absorbed into the settlement blocs. Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem would be outside the fence.
He told the crowd that his plan would “end the third Intifada” and result in a regional summit on security.
“Israel is at war, not going through a wave of terrorism; this is the Third Intifada. Every day another Israeli is killed, and unfortunately, the security situation appears to be deteriorating. I’m not willing to accept — or get used to — this reality,” he said.
“If the idea of disengagement dies, then so will the State of Israel — it will stop being a Jewish state. A separate state for Palestinians is Israel’s only chance to remain a Jewish, democratic country with definable borders. This is in our best interests,” he continued.
Herzog argued that separation from the Palestinians is the only way to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel. He also contended that disengagement from the West Bank would prevent the “infiltration of terrorists and strengthen security.”
Labor is one of two parties comprising the opposition Zionist Union party. Herzog slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he referred to, along with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, as “two tired leaders … unwilling to change the awful reality we live in today.”
“Israel does not have a functioning prime minister,” he said of Netanyahu. “In a house on Balfour Street lives a man paralyzed by fear. Underneath heavy makeup and a meticulous hairdo, you’ll find a frightened Netanyahu hiding,” continued Herzog.
Herzog presented the plan in Rome to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who expressed interest.
Former Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich harshly criticized the proposal, saying negotiations with the Palestinians are the only way forward, especially in the face of the current wave of violence. Yachimovich said that while Abbas may not be a “lover of Zion,” Herzog’s proposal could mean Israel will squander its “last opportunity to speak with a secular, pragmatic Palestinian leader. And we can’t lose this opportunity and play into the hands of Netanyahu.”