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Israel: 'We mustn't always give the impression we're Arab lovers,' Labor's Herzog says

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog speaking at Tel Aviv University, during which he addressed the news that a probe has been opened into his conduct during the last Labor primaries, March 30, 2016
Remark condemned by both Yachimovich and Bahloul, who sparred over the Hebron shooting

Israel's Labor party shouldn't give off the constant impression that they are "Arab lovers," the embattled leader Isaac Herzog said on Tuesday speaking at a party event, Haaretz reported.

The statement represents arguably the clearest manifestation yet of the prevailing mood in the party that it has veered leftward more than it intended and to regain power it must portray its policies as continuous with the Israeli mainstream.

"There prevails a mistaken impression that we put the vital interests of Palestinians ahead of Israel's," Herzog added at the event held in Ashkelon.

Herzog is under police investigation over allegations of graft surrounding his campaign for the 2013 Labor primaries, where he beat Shelly Yachimovich.

Earlier this month tensions within the opposition party came to the surface when Arab Israeli Knesset Member Zouheir Bahloul said that Palestinians attacking soldiers, rather than civilians, are not, strictly speaking, terrorists, and that the context of Israel's military occupation of the West Bank should not be glossed over.

Yachimovich, the former party chair, dismissed the comments made by the football commentator and media personality turned lawmaker -- made in connection with the incident in Hebron, where an Israeli soldier shot dead an incapacitated Palestinian stabber -- saying she “rejects. the definition of the IDF as an occupation army."

However both Yachimovich and Bahloul were united in condemning Herzog's remarks on Tuesday.

"Is this an appropriate reaction by the Labor leader to a far-right rally," Yachimovich tweeted referring to the Tel Aviv demonstration in support of Elor Azria, the Israeli soldier who was formally charged with manslaughter on Monday for last month's Hebron incident.

Bahloul demanded Herzog offer an apology for his remark to Israeli Arabs.


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