The Arab population is an integral part of the modern State of Israel, insisted President Reuven Rivlin last week in remarks aimed at pre-election promises by some who would like to transfer control of certain Arab towns to the Palestinian Authority.
In an appearance at the Haaretz Democracy Conference last week, less than a month before Israel’s national elections, Rivlin labeled as impractical and immoral suggestions that future peace negotiations include swapping several large Arab towns in the lower Galilee region for control over Jewish settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria.
That is one of the key planks in the election platform of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party.
Rivlin accused Lieberman and other right-wing politicians of making populist statements rather than exercising true leadership.
“Our leaders look behind them at the public rather than lead,” he said, predicting that whatever government emerges from the ballot boxes on March 17, in all likelihood Israel will yet again endure early elections in a year or two from now.
Rivlin was adamant that the dream of a Jewish and democratic state is not impossible, but that the “burden of proof is on us. We can’t say, ‘They’re our enemies, what do we owe them?’”
PHOTO: President Reuven Rivlin and Chairman of the Muslim Religion Believers Committee, Sheikh Muhammad Kiwan, meeting in July 2014 in an effort to curb mounting Jewish-Arab violence in Jerusalem (Flash90)