Israeli co-leader of the Zionist Union party, Labour Party's leader and head of the opposition, Isaac Herzog, attends the Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth's anti-BDS conference in Jerusalem on March 28, 2016. AFP / MENAHEM KAHANA
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Israel's opposition leader said Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was ready to freeze settlement construction in most of the West Bank and reach out to regional Arab nations but ultimately backed out for fear of losing his grip on power. Isaac Herzog, head of the opposition Zionist Union, said he was prepared to join Netanyahu's government based on a secret regional peace initiative brokered by then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that would have limited settlement growth to just the major blocs that Israel is expected to keep in any peace accord. Former American officials have confirmed a report Sunday in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Netanyahu turned down an offer that would have secured regional recognition of Israel as a Jewish state – a key Netanyahu demand – alongside a renewal of peace talks with the Palestinians with the support of the Arab countries.
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