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Friday, May 30, 2014

A very different Presidency?

With the announcement that Prime Minister Netanyahu has now endorsed Likud MK Ruby Rivlin for President (yes, that's yours truly with Rivlin when he was Knesset speaker in 2004 - thanks David C), Israel may have a very different President than Shimon Peres come June 10.
On the day that President Shimon Peres hosted Pope Francis, the frontrunner to succeed Peres made clear he does not share their vision of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But in an interview with The Times of Israel, the Likud’s Reuven Rivlin also promised that, if elected president, he would not seek to intervene in the decisions of Israel’s elected politicians on peacemaking or anything else.
Israelis and Palestinians are “destined to live together,” Rivlin told The Times of Israel Monday. But “I’m a utopianist,” he said. “I have a vision that suddenly all the Jewish people [from around the world] will come to live here… And if there were 10 million Jews here, we wouldn’t have to give up on anything.”
Rivlin was speaking to The Times of Israel in a short telephone interview timed to coincide with Wednesday’s Jerusalem Day, which he lamented was no longer a “consensus” day of festivities but, rather, had come to be celebrated “only by kipa-wearing [Orthodox] Israelis.”
He was reluctant to discuss the June 10 Knesset vote in which he hopes his 119 colleagues will elect him as Israel’s 10th president. “I think I have the support of most of them,” he said, and he stressed that, if elected to succeed Peres, his fellow MKs know that “I won’t intervene in Knesset decisions. [The MKs] will decide Israel’s borders, and its [policies on] peace. The president is a bridge to enable debate, to reduce tensions, to alleviate frictions.”
The presidency is a largely ceremonial position, but some presidents — certainly including Peres — have made no secret of their political and diplomatic preferences while in office. “It’s not for the president to determine the arrangements between Israel and the Palestinians, and the Arab world,” Rivlin elaborated, “but to be the bridge between opinions, and to facilitate dialogue and understanding.”
What a refreshing change that would be. 

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