President Reuven Rivlin on Monday evening told Israeli Muslim leaders and diplomats from Muslim states, in reference to recent violence in Arab Israeli towns: “We will not be able to uproot this violence without complete cooperation between the sides, between the security and law enforcement forces in the State of Israel, whose duty it is to provide a sense of security to every citizen, and the Arab political and civilian leadership.”
“There have and there will be difficult periods, but we will persevere,” the President said. “This is our duty, this is the mission of our generation. To ensure for our grandchildren a future in which it is understood that we are not doomed to live together, we are destined to live together.”
President of the Shariya Court of Appeals, Qadi Abed Alhakim Samara, Chairman of the Arab Regional Council Heads and Mayor of Sakhnin, Mazen Ganim, and Rabbi David Menachem, also addressed the forum, which was attended by Ambassadors from Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and Kazakhstan, as well as Qadis, regional authority heads, representatives of the IDF, Police, and Prison Services, and leading figures in Israeli industry, academics, teachers, and doctors.
President Rivlin welcomed his guests in Arabic, saying, “It is an honor to host you today, at your house, the President’s House.”
He continued, “Ramadan is the holiest month for Muslims around the world. For all Muslim communities across the world, Ramadan is a symbol of the same base values, of unparalleled importance: family and community, charity and care for the weak, spiritual reflection, and soul-searching. These are the values, with which every human being can and must identify. These are the values which have the power to uplift every community, and to bring together communities, and nations.”
The President described the recent violence in Israeli Arab towns, saying, “We are meeting here not at an easy time. The Arab public in Israel is crying out against a plague of rampant violence in Arab towns, against infiltration of criminal organizations, which are impacting the lives of innocent people. I am pained by this severe distress. A sense of personal security is a basic condition for normal life. For life in a proper society.
“Dear friends, dealing with this plague of violence, is a heavy challenge. It is a challenge that rests upon the shoulders of the government and the police, it is a challenge that rests also upon the Arab leadership in Israel. We will not be able to uproot this violence, without complete cooperation between the sides, between the security and law enforcement forces in the State of Israel, whose duty it is to provide a sense of security to every citizen, and between the Arab political and civilian leadership. The security and well-being of the public must be our key focus. The right of young men and women, to learn and flourish, the right of all our children to grow in safety.”
President Rivlin added, “In my discussions with the Chief of Police, and with the leaders of the Arab community, I recognize a sincere and courageous willingness to move forward. Despite the difficulties, despite the complexities, despite the past. In order to build trust, we will be compelled to look to the future. To put our suspicions aside, and to work together. In the coming weeks, we are interesting in hosting here a working meeting between the police leadership and the Arab regional authority heads. I hope that meeting will be a further step in building confidence and cooperation. We are dealing with people’s lives. I hope and pray that the current fracture will bring us closer to the correct decisions being made, to advancing solid and comprehensive cooperation and coordination which will return the sense of security to the streets and households.”
The President spoke of the great challenges which lay before the sides, and of the achievements of the Israeli Government in addressing the issues, such as the adaptation of Resolution 922 for the economic and social development of the Arab sector, which he noted results of which could already be seen.
He stated, “The partnership between us, Jews and Arabs, children of this land, is a reality stronger than any evil wind which may wish to uproot it. You, all of you, and many others with you, are our key to hope. You are the reason that I wholeheartedly believe that we can and will overcome the challenges before us. There have and there will be difficult periods, but we will persevere. This is our duty, this is the mission of our generation. To ensure for our grandchildren a future in which it is understood that we are not doomed to live together, we are destined to live together.”
President of the Shariya Court of Appeals, Sheikh Abed Alhakim Samara, and Chairman of the Arab Regional Council Heads and Mayor of Sakhnin, Mazen Ganim, thanked the President for his efforts to restore security in the streets. Sheikh Samara said with concern, “We as citizens feel that our personal safety is completely abandoned. Crime organizations are taking over our lives. They became a kind of government that lived in the shade. Trafficking in arms, drugs, women, increasing at a frightening rate.”
Ganim added that he has been crying wherever he goes that “thousands of weapons circulate in the communities. Our hands are straining to reign in the illegal weapons. This is a malignant cancer. Personal security is abandoned and this is true, but in you, Mr. President, we find consolation.”