Photo Credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)
Pres. Rivlin at INSS conference

The year 2017 comes with a great deal of symbolic significance, marking as it does 120 years since the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, declaring its goal of establishing for the Jewish people a publicly and legally assured home in Land of Israel; 100 years since the signing of the Balfour Declaration and the recognition of the Jewish people’s right to a national home in the Land of Israel; 80 years since the Peel Commission proposed the partition of the Land of Israel into two states – one Jewish and one Arab; 70 years since the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of the partition plan; and 50 years since the Six Day War liberated Judea and Samaria, and brought about the unification of Jerusalem.

Apparently, 2017 also marks 10 years since the launch of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), whose mission is to outline the current and future security challenges facing the State of Israel. And the INSS 10th annual conference also coincides with the inauguration of President Donald Trump, an event certain to have major implications on the relationship between Israel and the United States. The conference will, in fact, examine in-depth the future of strategic relations between the US and Israel, with the help of many guest speakers from the US who will address this issue from various angles.

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President Rivlin addressed the 10th annual INSS International Conference on Monday, saying, among other things, that “the major strategic threat highlighted in this year’s annual assessment is the ‘weakness in Israeli solidarity, and the culture of division.’ This is not just a passing statement.”

“This is not just a typographical error,” the president continued, “This is an urgent and critical call, which reflects the understanding that solidarity is part of our national resilience, a call which declares that the internal tensions in Israel represent a threat to our existence and our very security – no less than the external military threats, which have been weakened in recent times. The warning is real, and dealing with this threat is up to us, and up to us alone.”

“The internal disputes are numerous and varied,” Rivlin pointed out, “The relationship between the military and society, the relationship between religion and state, the relationship between the public and government institutions.”

“Last week we were all exposed to one such internal sensitivity relating to the Bedouin community,” Rivlin noted, explaining, “I want to distinguish between what occurred on the ground, and a long-term solution. A plan of action for the Bedouin community has been on the Government’s table now for a long time. […] I can even say that there is agreement on close to 90 percent of the issues addressed in the plan. The disagreements exist on the remainder. Without doubt, there will be issues which will require enforcement – but, there are also agreements.”

However, Rivlin reiterated, “the delay in the plan’s implementation is catastrophic for the State of Israel. If we wait another 20 years, we will be unable to solve the problem. The arrangement with the Bedouins must be at the very top of the public agenda. We are talking about the soul of the State of Israel. This is said also in relation to the general Arab sector.”

Rivlin cited the Or Commission, which back in 2000 “warned that the issue of regulating illegal construction in the Arab sector was of great concern in the community, among other reasons, due to the absence of an overall plan. We cannot wait another moment. Each hesitation distances us further from the solution, and has the ability to increase the divisions, and the violence.”

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