The newly elected 10th president of the modern State of Israel is most noted politically for his opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Reuven Rivlin is almost universally acknowledged in Israel as being a good and upstanding man and politician. But some would argue that point based on the fact that he is vocally opposed to the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
That’s not to say Rivlin is racist (though many of Israel’s antagonists will claim as much without reading any further). In fact, Rivlin has often made public his general concern for the local Arab population.
While serving as Speaker of the Knesset in 2011 (pictured), Rivlin, despite being a firm nationalist, strongly opposed a new bill that would give preference to Israeli army veterans in the hiring of government employees.
Rivlin argued that the bill would unfairly discriminate against Israel’s Arab minority, most of whom do not serve in the military. He also later opposed a bill that would obligate Israel’s Arabs to do national service alongside their Jewish countrymen.
So, what does he think should be done with the Palestinian Arab population?
Rivlin subscribes to the more popular of the one-state solutions, which proposes granting the Palestinians a form of extended autonomy. Under the proposal, the Palestinians would be granted Israeli citizenship, but would vote for their own parliament (as they already do) and largely govern their own affairs (as they already do).
Rivlin’s position on the matter is seen as something of an obstacle to his effective execution of his new post. But, in the run-up to the presidential vote, Rivlin vowed that if elected he would set aside politics and be a “man of the people” focused entirely on internal issues.
That would mark a stark contrast to outgoing President Shimon Peres, who was active on the international stage in pushing a two-state solution to the conflict.