Labor party and Opposition leader Isaac Herzog presents his ‘separation plan’ from the Palestinians

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog at INSS, January 19, 2016.Opposition leader Isaac Herzog at INSS, January 19, 2016.

“If we do not begin to separate from the Palestinians, Israel will become an Arab-Jewish state,” said Israeli Labor party chairman Isaac Herzog as the party convention approved Herzog’s”separation plan.”

“Only a separation between us, will prevent the infiltration of terrorists and strengthen security,” he said.

Under his plan, the West Bank security barrier would include the major settlement blocs inside Israel.

Herzog reiterated his view that while the two-state solution is not feasible at this time, there are diplomatic and security steps Israel can take to better its situation and facilitate the future implementation of the two-state solution once conditions are ripe.

The Labor move is considered by many to be a turn to the right for the leader of the center-left party. Labor is one of the two parties — along with Hatnua — comprising the main opposition Zionist Union faction.

In recent weeks the party has been engaged in a vivid debate about the plan, which calls for a interim pull-out from the West Bank, separating several east Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood from the rest of the city and completing the West Bank security barrier around large settlement blocs.

However, Herzog scored a victory over his critics and the convention adopted the plan as Labor’s official policy outline.

Herzog first presented his plan, which also calls for confidence building measures with the Palestinians and convening a regional conference with moderate Arab countries, last month at the INSS annual conference.

Since then he has discussed it with French President Francois Hollande and US Secretary of State John Kerry claiming separation is the only way to step out of the diplomatic stalemate with the Palestinians.

However, he has been under fire from members of his party, who accused him of abandoning the two-state solution, primarily former chair Shelly Yacimovich who said Herzog constituted a complete reversal of the Labor Party’s outlook.

He rejected the criticism against him, stating: “We have only one way to restore the Labor party of Ben-Gurion and Rabin. Not the far right, and not the extreme left. We are the party of centrist governance!”