Remarks by MK Isaac Herzog, Israeli Labor Party Leader and Opposition Leader

Categories: Letters From Leadership
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To the opening of the winter session of the Israeli Knesset

October 27, 2014

The Psalms say,  “I was young and I was old and did not see the righteous forsaken, when they asked for bread.”

Today, from this podium, I have a confession: I also was young and I am old – and some would say, I stayed young looking – and I do see the righteous forsaken and see that, though they sow, they also must ask for bread, but they are not heard!

Unfortunately there are many who live in fear that Israel is the opposite of a state that helps those who ask for bread, and is today a state that costs an arm and a leg to survive.

The Prime Minister has issued a new state budget that is his badge of shame.

Benjamin Netanyahu, this underhanded budget represents ambitious excess, personal survival for you, the Prime Minister, and a lack of national responsibility.  It is a desperate, underhanded budget and a disgrace that Knesset members will be asked to prepare it now!

This budget is yours, Prime Minister!! You and your government approved this budget.

And, you are a political schemer, preferring to appoint a finance minister who is a political novice lacking professional experience, and then use him as a human shield.

The problem is that the budget and the decisions made are at the expense of our children’s future, at the expense of our citizens’ housing, at the expense of an affordable cost of living, and at the expense of seriously hurting the middle class yet again.

The Prime Minister apparently considered the song of Shalom Hanoch “Waiting for the Messiah” – and has been humming to himself every morning the punch line: “They are dumb and therefore the public pays…”

But our public is not stupid. Our public is not willing to continue to pay. Who pays will be the Prime Minister.  He will pay with his chair, and soon.
——————-

I urge you from this podium, Mr. Prime Minister:
Enough!
Stop!
——————-

There are people who seek life, and life is more important than political self-preservation or a faltering political career.

The former leader of your party, Prime Minister – Menachem Begin, peace be upon him, like Yitzhak Rabin, of blessed memory – both were brave leaders, leaders that produced action, rather than simply govern through the dangerous survival mechanism that characterizes your way.

Bibi you’re scared! You are isolated. You are cut off from the people.

And when the leader is isolated, the government crumbles.
While the government crumbles, this embarrassing and disgraceful budget will hit deep in the pockets of the citizens of Israel.
And you, Mr. Prime Minister – Everything crumbles in your hands.

First it was Avigdor Lieberman who dismantled the faction you shared, then Gideon Sa’ar, Minister of Internal Affairs, abandoning you from the ranks of the party and now I hear that Yair [Lapid] and Tzipi [Livni] are building an internal front to weaken you.

You will survive another session, we will enter into another recess, and you will enter another alliance with the extreme right at the expense of our relations with the world and for the account of the most basic interests of the State of Israel. This is how you manage.

Six years in a row you’re holding onto your job. Six years!! What did you bring? What news are you in possession of? Nothing. Simply nothing.

No peace, no security, no economy and no hope.

What will you leave behind you for generations to come? That is the question!!

——————
Israel should return to a prosperous economy.   We must take what you did—how you destroyed the economy –and bring it back to life.

Israel should return to the fold of nations and not drown in the swamp of political blackmail of extremist groups, as we have seen in the last 24 hours, as they drain you again.

—————–

The socio-economic level of the Netanyahu government is dragging us towards the abyss.

See the economic collapse in our nation’s south, near the border with Gaza, with the wave of layoffs in an expanding periphery.  Chart the course of industry today, with another factory closing, another business deal gone wrong.

What future is there for those who join the thousands of laid-off in a cycle of growing unemployment as a result of your policies, that brought us zero percent growth per year?

What hope remains for them and their families?

The gaps are widening, the ability of couples to get an apartment no longer exists – and the farce surrounding the zero VAT initiative has only added to the confusion and vertigo.

Our pension system has long since turned into a sad joke. The education, health and welfare systems continue to absorb painful cuts that are injuring many more civilians.

The citizens of Israel must regain hope; they must regain a different way. The way of sanity.

Instead of this fiasco of zero VAT on housing, wouldn’t it be more logical to remove the VAT on groceries and pharmaceuticals, as is common in many western countries?

And, as an alternative to your failed housing venture, it would be possible to dramatically reduce the price of land administration auctions with legislation that we will put forward this week, though this is another initiative that your government opposes!

—————–

Mr. Prime Minister, let’s talk about security.

Israel’s standing in the world and the relationship between Israel and the United States has never been so low.

You are the man who personally must take credit for the destruction of Israel’s relations with the United States. You’ve repeatedly insulted President Obama and his administration.

Your finance minister, Yair Lapid, comments as if he were an onlooker and tells us how many of these relationships are critical to the security of Israel and how Israel needs to handle this problem. He just forgot to add that you are the Prime Minister and that is the problem.

So I say that only the overthrow of your government will be the right thing.

———————-

Everyone knows how Israel’s security is important and dear to me and to our Labor Movement, and to many of us here.
Make no mistake about it!
——————

For the sake of national security, if it is required when I am Prime Minister, I will exert tremendous power through the IDF, more than the chatter that comes from the right.

But before that, I will do everything possible to reach out my hand and my heart, for the sake of a peaceful future.

Security is the foundation, and as long as there is no security, we have no future. But a combination of a strong army and security – these are the cornerstones of peace.
—————-

Here is our so-called Mr. Security Prime Minister, and see how Jerusalem is burning now.  And, you are not taking any step to prevent the material in this combustion – you just add fuel to the fire.

In practice, because of your inability to make decisions, you are, de facto, dividing a Jerusalem that is our dear and beloved city.

Yes, folks … Netanyahu will divide Jerusalem!!
——————-

What does your government do to prevent the emergence of a bi-national state right under our noses?

You had an historic opportunity to make a difference in this area – a great chance that you missed.
———————
Here is the bottom line – there is no peace, no security, no economy, no housing, and no income! There is, therefore, no reason to leave the Netanyahu government in power.

——————-

If even a small window will open, I would go to Ramallah, to tell the Palestinian people that there is hope for peace. That they have someone to talk to, that, if they want to live, if they want hope for their citizens, if they want a booming economy –then, I extend my strong hand toward a brave peace.

If they choose the path of terrorism and warfare, I will act, without hesitation, to use the sword.
——————

Mr. Speaker,
My brief remarks here today are just the overture toward a determined and decisive struggle I intend to lead from today until this Knesset is convinced that the good of the country requires the replacement of this government.
————–

Members of Knesset,
I call on all parties in the center and the left and right parties, let’s unite in a mission to change the government in this life-loving country, whose citizens are entitled to pray not only for life, but also for a good quality of life.

Let’s offer hope for our younger generation and all citizens of the country. Come and we’ll give them to sanity.

Finally,
I and my colleagues and the opposition Labor Party, pledge to combat racism, to fight the evil atmosphere spreading within Israel, to prevent any manifestation of hatred and violence between us, against all those who are Israeli citizens, Arabs, Jews, women and men, both religious and secular.

I pledge to lead the people of Israel in a new way, an optimistic way of social justice, stability, social and economic resilience through the striving for peace and hope for all of us.

Above all, a way that would give our children a better future for this country that we all love so much and for which we are so worried about our collective fate.

We are committed to lead the Israeli camp of sanity, for a desirable life to achieve all of these things: social justice, stability, social and economic resilience and peace.  We will act with full force to replace the government.

Thank you!

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