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Israel opposition chief says report of unity government talks 'absolutely false'

Opposition head Isaac Herzog said ahead of the vote that the law represents "the buds of fascism blooming in Israel"
Menahem Kahana (AFP/File)
Center-left Zionist Union was reportedly set to receive eight cabinet portfolios in a new coalition

Israeli opposition chief Isaac Herzog on Tuesday denied an earlier report that "significant progress" had been made towards creating a unity government, calling it a "complete lie".

Speaking with Israel's Channel 2, Herzog said that "there has been no progress in recent weeks between  Netanyahu and I."

"The reports are absolutely false," Herzog continued, adding "our job is primarily to lead a fighting opposition."

"In most cases, Netanyahu prefers his personal interests over those of the nation - and I consider the national interest," Herzog told Channel 2.

However, the Zionist Union chair did not completely rule out the possibility in the future.

"We are a responsible party - if there was anything that requires a big stand for an historic agreement, I would consider it and bring it for discussion in the party," he says.

He went on to say that Netanyahu missed a "historic opportunity" at Peres' funeral.

"I saw at the funeral of Peres a missed historic opportunity - Netanyahu could have reached out to Abbas to initiate peace talks, and he did not do it."

Rumors have spread for months about talks between the head of the opposition, Zionist Union Chairperson Isaac Herzog, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The parties that make up Netanyahu's government, formed after elections in March 2015, hold 66 of the 120 seats in Israel's legislature.

According to a Tuesday report by Israel's Channel 10, the center-left Zionist Union – the largest party in the opposition – would receive eight cabinet portfolios if a unity government is created. These would include the foreign ministry, which would likely go to Herzog, and the culture ministry.

Current Culture Minister Miri Regev would likely be given the intelligence portfolio, according to the Channel 10 report.

Channel 10 said the parties involved in the talks had agreed to work to convene a regional conference on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Read more: Israel PM, opposition 'secret meeting' renews unity gov't speculation: report

Herzog posts, immediately deletes conditions for joining coalition


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