Herzog: ‘No Israelis in their right mind’ are thinking about peace process right now
Israel at warThe world 'didn't give a damn' about terror against Israelis

Herzog: ‘No Israelis in their right mind’ are thinking about peace process right now

Speaking in Davos, president says Israelis are worried about their basic safety in wake of October 7, have lost trust over the years as Palestinians glorify terror

President Isaac Herzog speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 18, 2024, alongside a photo of Hamas-held Israeli hostage Kfir Bibas. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 18, 2024, alongside a photo of Hamas-held Israeli hostage Kfir Bibas. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, next to a photo of one-year-old Israeli hostage Kfir Bibas, President Isaac Herzog said on Thursday that Israelis are not able to think about a peace process with the Palestinians right now.

“If you ask an average Israeli now about his or her mental state, nobody in his right mind is willing now to think about what will be the solution of the peace agreements,” he said in an interview on the WEF main stage, “because everybody wants to know: Can we be promised real safety in the future?”

After the unprecedented slaughter in southern Israel by Hamas terrorists on October 7, “every Israeli wants to know that he will not be attacked in the same way from north or south or east,” Herzog said.

The question of what Gaza will look like after a potential Israeli victory over Hamas has emerged as a major point of contention between Jerusalem and its allies. Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly rejected a proposal from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that would have seen Saudi Arabia normalize relations with Israel in exchange for Jerusalem agreeing to provide the Palestinians with a pathway toward statehood.

“Israel lost trust in the peace processes because they see that terror is glorified by our neighbors,” said Herzog.

On Wednesday, Blinken said at Davos that Israel cannot achieve “genuine security” without a pathway to a Palestinian state, insisting such a move could help unify the Middle East and isolate Israel’s top antagonist, Iran.

Kfir Bibas, whose first birthday was on Thursday, has been held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, along with his 4-year-old brother Ariel, and their parents, Shiri and Yarden, since October 7 when they were all abducted from Kibbutz Nir Oz.

The president stressed that “the war is not only between Israel and Hamas.”

“The world has to face it point blank: There is an empire of evil emanating from Iran,” said Herzog, adding that such activities are going to “undermine any peace process and any stability in the world.”

Herzog said the Hamas terror group must be uprooted to “enable a better future for the Palestinians who are our neighbors.” Israel is also fighting for the entire free world, and Europe and the United States are next, he declared.

Herzog also called for “a very strong coalition” to come together to face Iran and its proxies.

Last month, the United States announced a 10-nation coalition to quell Houthi missile and drone attacks on ships transiting the Red Sea, with Britain, France, Bahrain and Italy among countries joining the “multinational security initiative.”

Herzog also accused the world of “not giving a damn” about Israeli terror victims in the years before October 7.

Asked about the day after the war, Herzog said he envisioned a “coalition of nations who are willing to commit to rebuilding Gaza” in a way that enables the safety of Israelis and Palestinians, and a different future for Gaza.

He said the coalition would be made of “strong Western forces, strong regional forces,” in dialogue with Gazans and the Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu has repeatedly expressed opposition to the Palestinian Authority taking control of Gaza after the war, declaring that Gaza must be demilitarized and stating that Israel wants to carve out a buffer zone to prevent a repeat of the October 7 attack.

Israel would instead prefer a multinational authority, including Arab allies, incorporating a Palestinian council and technocrats, two regional politicians told Reuters. But most Arab states are unwilling to get involved. Arab and US officials have told The Times of Israel repeatedly over the past two months that Arab support for the reconstruction of Gaza is far from a given and that it will at best amount to a placeholder until the Palestinian Authority is ready to take over and advance a two-state solution.

The United Arab Emirates has explicitly stated, apparently in response to Netanyahu’s contention that the UAE and Saudi Arabia would finance the Gaza Strip’s reconstruction, that it needs to “see a viable two-state solution plan, a road map that is serious, before we talk about the next day and rebuilding the infrastructure of Gaza.”

In Davos, Herzog also revealed that he met with officials from the Red Cross in Israel two days ago, “to discuss the dire medical situation of the hostages, the clear and present danger to our hostages.”

“We are praying that all the medication… will reach them, but that’s only the beginning,” he added.

On Wednesday, five truckloads of medicine entered Gaza, after undergoing Israeli security checks, according to authorities.

The shipment included long-awaited medicine for Israeli hostages held by Hamas, many of whom rely on prescription drugs for chronic conditions, as well as medical supplies, food, and other humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the war-torn Gaza Strip, as part of a deal brokered by Qatar and France.

A senior Hamas official said that for every box provided for the hostages, 1,000 boxes of medicine were being sent in for Palestinians.

The medical aid earmarked for the hostages has been desperately needed since their abduction on October 7 during the brutal massacre carried out by Hamas inside Israel, in which some 1,200 people were murdered and nearly 250 were kidnapped, including children and the elderly. PJC

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