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Isaac Herzog being interviewed by Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland (Photo credit: Marc Morris)

by Stephen Oryszczuk

Israel’s Opposition leader Isaac Herzog has paid tribute to the Queen’s decision to visit to Bergen Belsen on her visit to Germany later this month, saying it is “directly linked” to the State of Israel.

Appearing at the Jewish News’ UK-Israel conference in Westminster, Herzog recalled how his father – former Israeli president Gen. Chaim Herzog – was present at the camps liberation, speaking Yiddish to dying prisoners who didn’t believe he was a liberator “from Eretz Israel”.

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Isaac Herzog (Photo credit: Marc Morris photography)

The leader of Zionist Union, Herzog used the platform to blast Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, especially on his pre-election comments, urging supporters to vote because “the Arabs are voting in droves”. 

He said: “It carried unpleasant undertones, and we are clearly paying the price. The comments are being used to erode our most important defence shield, namely that we are the only tru democracy in the Middle East.”

He continued: “It was unacceptable. It should never have been said by a prime minister of Israel. There are lines we should not cross.”

Having paid tribute to H.E. Daniel Taub, outgoing Israeli ambassador to the UK, he reasserted the need to restart negotiations with the Palestinians, but said “Netanyahu’s coalition will not allow it”.

On Gaza, Herzog showed a similar urgency, describing the coastal strip as “a pressure cooker that could explode again”. 

He said: “We have to deal with it, return it to the Palestinian Authority, and this should be a multi-party process, including Egypt and European members. We need to come forward with a plan, building towards long-term demilitarisation.”

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Barely any standing room whilst Mr Herzog was under the microscope.