Rivlin makes plea for national unity as Netanyahu campaign rhetoric heats up

March 14, 2019
As PM draws criticism for demonizing Arab community in bid to secure reelection, president underscores solidarity, equal rights in Israel

President Reuven Rivlin during a ceremony for fallen MIA Israeli soldiers at Mount Herzl Military cemetery in Jerusalem on March 14, 2019

Times of Israel reports, “President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday issued a fresh call for national unity amid an increasingly incendiary election campaign.“These are turbulent days for Israel. Discourse is becoming more extreme and boundaries are becoming blurred,” Rivlin said at a ceremony for IDF soldiers missing in action at the military cemetery on Mount Herzl.”

““But even in times like this, we must not forget that in the trenches and waiting for battle we lie next to each other,” Rivlin said. “Side by side, left and right, Jews and non-Jews.” “There, disagreement is silenced,” he said. “That is how your dear ones fought. That, so painfully, is how they fell on behalf of the state.” In his remarks, Rivlin also said Israel had a moral obligation to secure the return of the bodies of IDF soldiers being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. “There is one absolute truth: It’s the duty of our state and our leaders to do everything for our soldiers who never returned from battle. This is a moral obligation of the highest order.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the launch of his Likud party’s election campaign in Ramat Gan, March 4, 2019

“Rivlin made the remarks days after he appeared to publicly criticize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of his Likud party, who have repeatedly accused their center-left rivals of planning to rely on Arab parties in their future government coalition. At a peace conference held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rivlin on Monday condemned the “entirely unacceptable remarks” about Arabs by some politicians. “There are no, and there will be no, second-class citizens, and there are no second-class voters,” Rivlin said at the conference marking the 40th anniversary of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. “We are all equal in the voting booth. Jews and Arabs, citizens of the State of Israel.”

“Later on Thursday, Rivlin said he was being attacked for his criticism of Netanyahu by the prime minister’s allies, but said he was not frightened by the efforts to intimidate him.” (more…)

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