While President Reuven Rivlin has been a lifetime supporter of Jewish rights to Judea and Samaria, his declared support this week for “annexation” comes with a condition.
By: Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News
Everyone who has followed Reuven “Ruby” Rivlin’s political career is aware that the President is a lifelong Betari, a student of Zionist pioneer Zev Jabotinsky, a Likudnik and a true believer in Jewish political rights to all of the Land of Israel, including Judea and Samaria.
Nonetheless, since becoming president, Rivlin has largely avoided partisan political issues. That’s why it came as a surprise to some when the president reiterated his views on Sunday, at a time when Knesset legislation is being raised calling for the annexation of Judea and Samaria.
Rivlin stated that he “was born into the belief that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews,” and supports the annexing of Judea and Samaria. But before completing the sentence he added, “and all residents must have full rights.”
“Everyone must know that when we extend sovereignty on our country, all of its residents will become citizens of the state.” Rivlin added.
Annexation of Jewish communities
The coalition bill is similar to one approved by the Likud Central Committee a month and a half ago and does not refer to the annexation of the entire Judea and Samaria, but only to the Jewish communities.
A portion of the bill states: “The law, jurisdiction, administration and sovereignty of the State of Israel will apply to all areas of settlement in Judea and Samaria.” The text of the bill does not specify the areas to be annexed, leaving that decision to a Knesset committee that would be tasked with preparing the proposal for its first reading.
Hebrew University Political Science Professor Avrum Diskin told World Israel News (WIN), “Everyone, including Rivlin understands the problems with annexation. It effectively changes the political reality in Israel forever. Even outside demographic problem, there would be heavy influence of Arabs in the society. If we annex, without giving citizenship to the Arabs then we risk creating an apartheid system. It also ends the possibility of a negotiated settlement and that’s a departure from the policy of all Likud governments. Annexation also creates a rift with the entire world.”
“It’s more prudent if Israel annexes only the settlement blocs with large Israeli populations, where few Arabs reside. It’s also more palatable that Israel not ‘annex’ but rather ‘apply Israeli law’ like we did with the Golan heights. Only in Jerusalem we annexed territory captured in the 1967 war.”
Liberal on social issues, but committed to ‘Greater Israel’
Regarding Rivlin’s position, Diskin told WIN, “On the one hand, the president wants to be viewed as an extreme liberal on social issues. On the other hand, he remains committed to a ‘Greater Israel.’ That has always been his personal view and that is not going to change. He believes all of the land of Israel is ours. He is open to the idea of giving the Arabs living in Judea and Samaria Jordanian citizenship but there are no partners willing to cooperate with such a solution.”
Professor Moshe Amirav from the Hebrew University is disappointed that Rivlin’s views have not changed with time. Armirav told WIN, “Rivlin has a misunderstanding of what it takes to make peace. If we take unilateral steps and annex Judea and Samaria and give the Arabs citizenship, it would be the end of Israel as we know it. It would be suicidal. I also was a student of Jabotinsky, but he died in 1940 and things have changed since then.”
Settlement activist and Jabotinsky expert Yisrael Medad told WIN, “President Rivlin is a Jabotinsky-ite through and through. The Jabotinsky movement believes that Arabs in the Land of Israel must be afforded full citizenship with all the rights and responsibilities, within the framework of the Jewish State. Jabotinsky’s last book, The War and Jew, deals with the issue extensively. Much has happened since 1940 but I believe that Rivlin holds onto that ideal without reservation. That includes a belief that Arabs who proclaim loyalty to Israel as the Jewish state must be granted citizenship just like the Arabs currently living in Israel.“