Leader of Israel’s opposition and head of Zionist Union party, Isaac Herzog met with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome on Wednesday, 03 February 2016, presenting him with his recent separation plan, and urging the US to “promote confidence building steps in the Middle East.”
During the meeting in Rome, Herzog pointed towards a two-state solution, telling the top US diplomat that “a separation policy is the only way to move things in the region.”
In Wednesday’s meeting Herzog called on the US to support a regional security conference with Egypt, Jordan, Israel and other states, before the end of the Obama administration, “to refuel a regional front against Islamic terror and promote confidence building steps in the Middle East.”
Herzog told Kerry his plan, pointing that “It will not happen tomorrow morning.”
“The security situation cannot go on, Israelis are being killed in the streets and the world is presenting bizarre initiatives and boycotts,” Herzog added.
Calling for a separation between Israelis and Palestinians in the Jerusalem area as well, Herzog said that some 28 Palestinian villages in the area “have never been part of Jerusalem.” He said that Israel must find a way to physically separate from these villages “so that they can not come and stab us.”
In addition, Herzog told Army Radio that, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “stuck in place – they are not able to make progress. I don’t see the ability to apply, right now, a two-state agreement.”
The meeting follows a warning from French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius that France will recognize the Palestinian state if no progress is made on two-state solution in the coming weeks and presented a plan to organize an international conference to “reinforce efforts.” Netanyahu blasted the warning, arguing that it gives Palestinians no incentive to compromise, and hoped that the French would “sober up”.
Last month Herzog stirred controversy when he proposed to unilaterally disengage from West Bank territories instead of holding negotiations with the Palestinians. He said that under the current conditions a two-state solution with the Palestinians was impossible, a departure from the traditional view of his own Labor party, which has over the years pushed for a Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state.
“I wish to separate from as many Palestinians as possible, as quickly as possible” Herzog said at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. Instead, he said, several Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem should be separated from the rest of the city and the separation barrier in the West Bank should be completed to include all settlement blocs.