President Rivlin addresses 10th annual International Conference of the Institute for National Security Studies – INSS
(Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson)
President Rivlin: "A plan of action for the Bedouin community has been on the Government’s table now for a long time. The delay in the plan’s implementation is catastrophic. If we wait another 20 years, we will be unable to solve the problem."
President Reuven Rivlin this afternoon (Monday), addressed the opening session of the the 10th annual International Conference of the Institute for National Security Studies – INSS.
"Debates on national security are usually conducted behind closed doors, in rooms that were once filled with smoke – far from the eye of the public, the media, and far from the listening ears of the enemy." The President said at the start of his remarks and continued, "There is no doubting the need for the sensitivity, for reasons of security. Solidarity should not be harmed; not out of recklessness, nor out of decisions taken for populist or unconnected reasons. Yet, from 2009 onwards, alongside the assessments of the official intelligence services, the INSS has presented a national strategic assessment. I wish to list briefly the benefits of this report. It is a report authored by great and knowledgeable experts. It is an assessment which includes and addresses in detail the numerous opportunities and threats facing the State of Israel. It is an assessment which is as comprehensive as it is deep, and backs up its conclusions with systematically arranged facts and figures. However, above all, it is a report which is open to the whole public. Knowledge is power. And knowledge shared by experts with the public, enables all to be empowered."
The President continued and said, "In the first decades of the state there was a clear hierarchy between ‘the experts’ and ‘the people’. The experts knew, and the people obeyed. Today, the experts wish to share with the whole Israeli public the responsibility which comes with sovereignty. And this responsibility is a heavy one indeed. In this sense, not only the INSS report, but also this conference, are great assets to Israeli sovereignty. They are a symbol of the maturity of Israel’s democracy. And they are a sign that in the State of Israel, one can hold a genuine and professional discussion on the issues affecting our destiny and very existence, and that at the same time, this discussion can be held in the public domain. That said, it is not enough for the discussion to be public, you also need the (participation of the) public. The public must carry the responsibility which comes with knowledge. The public must consider the issue of the State of Israel’s national security to be of importance. A public which, alongside its wide diversity between its sectors, will also have at least a minimal level of brotherhood.
The President went on to say 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. 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; the relationship between the military and society, the relationship between religion and state, the relationship between the public and government institutions" President Rivlin said, and added, "Last week we were all exposed to one such internal sensitivity relating to the Bedouin community. I want to distinguish between what occurred on the ground, and between a long term solution. A plan of action for the Bedouin community has been on the Government’s table now for a long time. The Goldberg Report was published in 2008. The Prawer Plan, designed to implement the Goldberg Report with Begin’s amendments, was passed by the Knesset in 2013. 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. 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. The Or Commission of 2000 already warned that the issue of regulating illegal construction in the Arab sector was an issue of great concern in the community. For 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.”
The President concluded his remarks by quoting from Article 13 of the Or Commission report and said, "When it comes to dealing with the Arab sector, the issue of land is of great importance. This issue highlights burning issues that can be a century old or even older. It is hard to ignore the intense emotional dimension that accompanies this issue. However, the national context and baggage we carry cannot detract from the obligation of the State to treat its Arab citizens through principles of just distribution. The Arab sector has legitimate needs, resulting from, among other things a growing birth rate. The state must allocate land according to patterns and principles of equality, as it does to other sectors. In principle, there is no discrimination against the Arab sector, negatively or positively, compared with the norm for the other sectors. There is room to determine appropriate planning arrangements, as soon as possible, in order to avoid illegal construction, which one of its causes is lack of valid programs that allow obtaining a permit to build. In this context, the red tape and the weakness characterizing ways to find a solution to this problem must give way to vigorous system-wide action, which will provide a real solution to the issues of house demolitions and expropriations. Often, the reasonability of decisions made in this regard are questionable, and reflect a lack of sensitivity, and sometimes lack of wisdom. However, when it comes to illegal construction, where it is not possible to legitimize the situation - and there are many such places – the State must enforce the law without hesitation. "