President Reuven Rivlin.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday night hosted Arab notables at an Iftar dinner at his official residence in Jerusalem that included members of Knesset, mayors of Arab towns and villages, Kadi Daoud Zini, chairman of the Sharia Court of Appeal, and Abbas Ghanaym, chairman of the higher Arab Monitoring Committee.
Prior to the dinner Rivlin held a briefing in Hebrew with journalists who report for the Arab-language media, telling them and the Iftar guests that Ramadan is based on the values of compassion mercy and grace but that there are those who seek to exploit and distort the sanctity of Ramadan and engage in murderous terrorism.
Rivlin said he joined in the concern of countries in the region about the increase in terrorism and sent his condolences to the president and people of Egypt following last week’s horrific attack in Sinai.
In the face of these bloody events, said Rivlin, all the children of Abraham must condemn these atrocities in a strong, loud and clear voice.
“We cannot be silent,” he said.
“We must not be silent.”
He urged Israel’s Arab population not to think of itself as a separate entity making a distinction between Arabs and Jews. “Let’s all be Israelis,” he said.
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Questions posed by the journalists centered on the suitability of the incoming police commissioner; the destruction of Arab houses; the lack of recognition of the Beduin; whether or not there should be a twostate solution; whether or not Jerusalem should be divided; Iran; racism; and how to stop the crime and violence within the Arab sector.
Rivlin said his personal opinion on a two-state solution was irrelevant.
In a Jewish and democratic state, he said, there will be peace only when there is consensus on all sides on the issue of coexistence.
Rivlin displayed great sensitivity with regard to “50 years of inequality” that have pained the Arab sector and said that when he was elected president he made it his goal to forge a true partnership between the different groups within Israeli society, adding that he was hopeful this would be the first of many such meetings at which members of the Arab community feel free to air their grievances.
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