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(photo credit: AP)
Every citizen will be obliged to perform some form of national service, Foreign Minister and Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni said Thursday at a Tel Aviv gathering of over 100 mayors from around the country.
Referring to the country's haredi and Arab populations, the majority of whom do not serve in the IDF alongside secular and modern Orthodox Israelis, Livni said that if "every citizen in this country is required to do military service, civil service or national service," it would contribute to unity and equality in the country.
The Kadima leader, who has spent the past year heading up the Israeli negotiating team to the US-sponsored Annapolis process, also said the final result of peace would be a Palestinian state that would "fulfill the national aspirations of Israel's own Arab citizens."
"The peace process is premised on building two nation-states. The establishment of a Palestinian state will fully express the national aspirations of Palestinians. Israel will have the symbols, the law of return and other unifying elements of [Jewish] nationhood."
"This is not discrimination," she added, "because every citizen will still be equal in rights."
Under a Kadima-led government, Israel's education system would reflect this, with a mandatory core curriculum that includes citizenship, English and mathematics being taught in Arab and haredi school systems.
Livni promised the Education Ministry would not be in the hands of a "sectorial party, especially not Shas."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Labor's candidate for prime minister, used part of his speech to refer to the Iranian nuclear program and the new US administration's stated intention to dialogue with the Islamic Republic.
"If they're going to do it, the Americans should keep the dialogue with Iran short, limited in time and followed up by sanctions according to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter," said Barak, adding that "Israel is not taking any options off the table. We don't intend to allow Iran to reach nuclear weaponization."
Likud prime ministerial candidate Binyamin Netanyahu, who leads in polls, promised the mayors a Likud-led government would give them more local policing powers and extend the country's train system to the far northern and southern ends of the state.
All three candidates vowed a new focus on governmental reform, citing the Israel Lands Authority as the first target of efforts to streamline government bureaucracy.