Could Isaac Herzog, leader of Israel’s center-left opposition, become the nation’s next prime minister? As Herzog himself sees it, the result is all but assured. “I’m here to tell you that I will form the next government, and I will lead Israel in a different direction,” the Labor Party chairman told The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum on Friday.
Labor won’t be able to ride disappointment with Netanyahu all the way to power, though. One barrier could be Herzog’s own likeability. Goldberg charitably pointed out that Herzog is regarded in Israel as a “non-charismatic figure.” Herzog retorted that one of his virtues is that “people trust me,” and jokingly alluded to the bitter ends that some of history’s charismatic leaders have met.
Another challenge will be establishing a viable, centrist coalition of parties. Herzog admitted that he hasn’t yet formalized partnerships with other parties, but he did state that “all partners are possible,” from the leftist Meretz party to Avigdor Lieberman’s right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party to the ultra-Orthodox Shas party. Assuming Labor receives backing from its traditional allies on the left and in the center, and entices the support of Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party and other unconventional allies, Herzog’s bloc could conceivably amass the 61 seats necessary to achieve a majority in parliament.