Middle East Peace 14-06-2014
Israeli parliament has picked a head of state to buck the trends of the past
Jun 14th 2014 | JERUSALEM |
“FOR the first time ever, we have a president espousing a one-state solution,” says a delighted Israeli minister. Choosing between one candidate aspiring to divide the Holy Land into two separate states for Jews and Arabs, and another who champions a single state with more or less equal rights for all, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, voted for the second. Reuven Rivlin won 63 votes to his rival’s 53.
Mr Rivlin (pictured above) replaces the 90-year-old Shimon Peres, who for the past two decades has grappled in vain for a two-state settlement. Along with Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s present prime minister, Mr Rivlin opposed Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 by the then prime minister, Ariel Sharon. Instead Mr Rivlin stayed loyal to a small band of hawkish faithful within the Likud party who refused to follow Mr Sharon into a new one closer to the centre. But whereas Mr Netanyahu has reluctantly endorsed the idea of a Palestinian state, Mr Rivlin has never done so. He has clung to the vision of Zeev Jabotinsky, who aspired to turn what was the British mandate of Palestine into a single state with equal rights for Jews and Arabs—with a presumed Jewish majority.
“He’s a liberal,” says Uzi Landau, the tourism minister and fellow ideologue. “He wants one state with equal rights for all,” giving the vote to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Under such a plan, insists Mr Landau, the Jewish state could have a Palestinian leader if a majority voted for one, though “Israel’s underlying character, its holidays and culture, would remain Jewish.”
It has been noted that Mr Rivlin, as the Knesset’s speaker, defended Arab parliamentarians from Jewish ones who wanted to ban them from the chamber. His first trip as speaker was to Umm al-Fahm, a Muslim city in northern Israel. Gidi Grinstein, an Israeli analyst, likens Mr Rivlin to Azmi Bishara, an Arab member of the Knesset who espoused a state for all its citizens on both sides of the 1967 border. (Mr Bishara later fled to Qatar after accusations of treason.) Whereas Mr Peres polished Israel’s image on numerous trips abroad, Mr Rivlin intends to stay more at home as “a president of all citizens, Jewish and Arab alike”.
Though Israel’s president has a largely ceremonial job, he can make a big impact in his seven-year term. Since he can issue amnesties, he could block—or endorse—the mooted release of Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian leader in an Israeli jail who may be the Palestinians’ most popular advocate of a two-state solution. Mr Rivlin’s victory may also boost Israelis who want to annex the West Bank in whole or part to Israel. “He’s signed up,” cheers Naftali Bennett, the economy minister, who wants to annex the mainly rural 62% of the West Bank. “We proved that the opponents of the two-state settlement are still the mainstream,” smiles a senior Likudnik.
This could be a very interesting development that might lead to some advancement in the push for Middle East Peace.
Learn from the Bible about Israel and the Palestinian Issue and how the Bible has prophesied that Israel will dwell in PEACE with her neighbours. Click on the Article below: