Last Wednesday, Israel’s Labor party, led by Isaac Herzog, and the centrist Hatnua, led by Tzipi Livni, agreed to merge. Conventional wisdom holds that Hatnua gains much from this deal, and Labor next to nothing. Not so, argues Haviv Rettig Gur; Labor’s greatest competition comes not from the right but from the center, which Herzog has chosen to co-opt:
Herzog has spent months crafting a new electoral strategy for the Labor party that aims to pull the center away from Netanyahu. The Labor leader has largely abandoned the left-wing rhetoric about reconciliation and peace, and argues for the simpler and more widely supported idea of separation. Without the two-state solution, he tells Israelis in speeches and media interviews, Israel will remain entangled in Palestinian affairs—and in Palestinian political dysfunction and extremism. Now Herzog is solidifying that strategy, and made a dramatic show on Wednesday of sacrificing his personal ambitions for the benefit of the cause.