Herzog: Egypt’s call for peace ‘a rare opportunity’

May 17, 2016  

Zionist Union chairman and opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog on Tuesday night linked his desire to join Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition with the statement by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi calling for a peace agreement between Israel and the PA.

“The speech by President Al-Sisi in Egypt today is a speech which I define as historic and revolutionary,” Herzog said in a video posted to his Facebook page.

“The drama of the speech is due, first of and foremost, to the way he details what he wants to do, and the fact that it detects a rare regional opportunity that has not existed in the past,” continued Herzog. “When I talked about this opportunity a few days ago, I knew what I was saying.”

“I think there’s an opportunity here that we must not turn our backs on, and we must exhaust it and understand whether the Israeli government and the Prime Minister are prepared to do so in order to prevent further rounds of bloodshed,” he added.

The Egyptian president had earlier Tuesday issued a call to “join forces” to make regional peace more possible.

“After signing the peace accords, no one thought that true and lasting peace, as it exists today between Israel and Egypt, could be achieved. However, it became a permanent peace due to the changing times and reality,” Sisi stated. “There is an opportunity to write a new chapter of peace in the area.”

“If we can all join forces in order to solve the Palestinian issue by creating hope for Palestinians and assuring security for Israelis, we will be able to write a new chapter that may prove to be more important than the peace accords between Israel and Egypt,” he added.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed Sisi’s remarks, stressing that “Israel is ready to participate with Egypt and other Arab states in advancing both the diplomatic process and stability in the region.”

“I appreciate President Sisi’s work and also draw encouragement from his leadership on this important issue,” added Netanyahu.

Herzog’s comments came amid continued talks between him and Netanyahu on the possibility of Herzog joining the coalition.

Earlier Tuesday it was reported that Netanyahu recently offered Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman the Defense Minister position, if his party joined the coalition.

Nertanyahu also offered Liberman a commitment to uphold a “death penalty for terrorists” policy Liberman has championed for years.

Liberman, however, evidently turned him down.

Herzog and Netanyahu, for their part, met in person on Sunday night to discuss the possibility of a unity government. During that meeting, according to subsequent reports, Herzog asked for a significant improvement in the offers that had been made so far so that he could persuade party colleagues to join him.

One source stated that Herzog had specifically asked for the justice, communications, or culture ministerial portfolios.

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