Wed Feb 10, 2016 02:45PM
Israeli co-leader of the Zionist Union party and Labor Party's leader, Isaac Herzog, speaks during a press conference at the Jerusalem Press Club, on February 10, 2016. ©AFP
Israeli co-leader of the Zionist Union party and Labor Party's leader, Isaac Herzog, speaks during a press conference at the Jerusalem Press Club, on February 10, 2016. ©AFP

Israel's opposition leader has dismissed the possibility of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, calling for unilateral separation from the Palestinians "as much as possible." 

Isaac Herzog, the head of the Labor-led Zionist Union coalition, made the comments during a Wednesday press conference to put forward his new security and diplomatic initiative.

He said negotiations between the two sides under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas could not yield any result.

The Israeli politician proposed separating "Palestinian areas" on the outskirts of al-Quds (Jerusalem) from the city, saying that construction of the controversial separation barrier that has already walled off much of the occupied West Bank should be completed. 

"And I believe that reality calls right now to understand that, tomorrow, peace is not around the corner. What needs to be done is separating from the Palestinians as much as possible. This is taking our fate in our own hands,” he said.

The last round of so-called peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians collapsed in 2014. Tel Aviv’s illegal settlement activities and its refusal to release senior Palestinian prisoners were among major reasons behind the failure of the talks.

The Israeli premier formally suspended the so-called peace talks with the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority on April 24, 2014, after Abbas forged a unity pact with the Hamas resistance movement, which is based in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Israel responded to the unity pact by announcing tenders for the building of 4,800 illegal settler units on the occupied Palestinian territories.

Herzog’s remarks come amid growing tensions in the occupied West Bank that erupted after Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) in August 2015. Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam.

The restrictions have enraged Palestinians, who are also angry at growing violence by Israeli settlers frequently storming al-Aqsa. They say the Tel Aviv regime seeks to change the status quo of the compound. More than 170 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces since October.