Opposition Leader Herzog: Israel Will Retain Settlement Blocs in Any Peace Deal

Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog said during a tour of the West Bank city of Ariel on Tuesday that all major settlement blocs will remain part of Israel in any future peace deal with the Palestinians.

Herzog surprised political observers by advocating from unilateral withdrawal from much of the West Bank and agreeing with his rival, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that a two-state solution is not currently realistic. In Ariel, Herzog advocated building a fence around the settlement blocs which would serve as a limit on their growth but would also serve to protect them from possible terror attacks. “The fence around Ariel is not a luxury,” he said. “It’s a security obligation that the state owes its citizens.”

He reiterated his skepticism about the current prospects for peace. “If it isn’t possible today to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, it’s at least possible to separate the two peoples,” he said. “We have to create a boundary beyond which there is no construction, otherwise the conflict will only worsen.”

[Photo: Miriam Alster / Flash90 ]