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June 4, 2020 1:12 pm

Israeli President Rivlin Calls for Civility as Annexation Debate Heats Up

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. Photo: Mark Neiman / GPO.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday called for more civility in the ongoing debate over the Trump peace plan and the potential annexation of parts of the West Bank in the near future.

“We are all losing out in this discourse,” Rivlin said, according to Israeli news site Walla.

“The debate on fateful questions — and the question of annexation is certainly a fateful question — must take place,” he asserted. “It must take place — in every country that puts the welfare of its people first. To every man his worldview. This is the lifeblood of Israeli democracy.”

“We are not afraid of the critics and the questioners,” Rivlin said, warning that discourse on such issues should not be silenced.

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“But the verbal violence, labeling, ridicule, and contempt must be stopped,” he admonished. “I say to you: enough.”

The debate over annexation has become increasingly bitter in recent days on both the left and the right.

The settler right is opposed to the Trump plan because it involves only partial annexation and the future creation of a Palestinian state, leading the head of the Yesha Council David Elhayani to state that US President Donald Trump and top advisor Jared Kushner were “not friends” of Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Elhayani, calling Trump a “great friend” of Israel, and saying, “It is unfortunate that, instead of gratitude, there is someone who denies this friendship.”

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin, from Netanyahu’s Likud party, also criticized Elhayani’s remarks, calling them “impudent and irresponsible.”

At the same time, the Israeli left is mobilizing against annexation, with Meretz party head Nitzan Horowitz saying, “Annexation is a recipe for disaster and bloodshed.”

Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg also attacked annexation, saying, “Sovereignty without citizenship is apartheid.”

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