"Jerusalem is the true microcosm to bring to an end this tragedy, an end to this conflict between Israelis and Palestinians," Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said Wednesday at The Jerusalem Post's Diplomatic Conference at Jerusalem's Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
On the topic of United States President Donald Trump's expected announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Rivlin emphasized that Jerusalem is an ancient city of deep roots for both Jews (Rivlin himself is a seventh-generation Jerusalemite) and their "cousins," the Arabs, and stated that "There is no conflict between running a Jewish state and a democratic one. We, Jews, cannot live in a country unless it is a democratic one."
Rivlin pointed out that diplomats know very well that Israel's capital is Jerusalem, because Israel's government is situated there. Diplomats come to Jerusalem to visit the Knesset, to go to the president's house and to meet with lawmakers, "because the parliament of Israel is in Jerusalem."
Rivlin then recalled that his political tutor, former Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, once told him that "sometimes the obvious should be said."
"And the obvious," Rivlin said, "is that Jerusalem is the actual capital of Israel."
Shifting to the topic of Israel-Diaspora relations, Rivlin lamented, "There is a crisis between us and the American Jewry..." Rivlin noted that though American and Israeli Jews are brothers and sisters, they have different approaches to many issues, such as the division of "church and state." He also said that over the last 70 years, the two nations' Jews had "really neglected the idea that we have to know each other..." though he closed the topic by saying "We are all one family and we have to understand that despite all disagreements and arguments, we are family."
Rivlin also insisted that there should be more interaction between Jewish and Arab Israelis, including specifically Haredim and national religious oriented citizens, saying "We are all part of one nation."
The president then spoke strongly on the topic of regional unrest, especially regarding Iran. "Israel needs to convince the whole world that... Iran is still the number one supporter of terrorism in the world, and the very existence of Iran in the region brings danger to the entire region, not only Israel... " Rivlin related that he told Russia's Vladimir Putin that "Israel can and will protect its borders. It is impossible for us to let Iran become situated next to us on our border, whether along the Syrian border or with Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon."
The session was closed with the question of what Rivlin plans to do about the pending pardon request from former Prime Minster Yitzhach Rabin's assassin, Yigal Amir. The president said: "Yigal Amir really affected Israeli democracy. He has said that... if somebody thinks that he cannot get any kind of results using democracy, he can kill somebody. Yigal Amir, I believe, can never be pardoned."
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