Independence Day row officially over

Netanyahu will light a torch and give brief remarks, but the ceremony will otherwise maintain the traditional framework.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
(photo credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)
The feud over the 70th Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony ended on Tuesday, with Culture Minister Miri Regev giving in on the final point of contention.
Earlier this week, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed that the latter would light a torch in honor of Israeli governments throughout the ages at the ceremony on Mount Herzl on April 18, and make brief remarks relating to the Independence Scroll, similar to what he did in 1998 for Israel’s jubilee.
They also agreed that the Ministerial Committee for Symbols and Ceremonies would approve a decision that institutes the practice for every 10 years, but Regev did not agree to that part of the agreement until Tuesday.
Regev and Edelstein had been at loggerheads as to whether Netanyahu should speak at the event or not. Regev wanted Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin to speak, as well as Edelstein, while the latter wanted the ceremony to retain its traditional format, in which only the Knesset speaker gives an address. Edelstein said he and the Knesset Guard, which marches during the ceremony, would withdraw from the event if it were changed.
With the agreement in place, Edelstein said it “will preserve the traditional torch-lighting ceremony that we all love... The Knesset, which represents all citizens of Israel will lead the ceremony.
“Unfortunately, the arguments clouded the public atmosphere and I am sorry for that,” he added.
“I think the solution we found is acceptable to most of the public, and I call on all of you to celebrate 70 years of Israel grandly and joyfully.”
Regev said she is “glad that reason and statesmanship overcame personal considerations and the prime minister will participate in the torch-lighting ceremony, will give a speech and light a torch for the glory of the State of Israel.”