TEL AVIV – President Reuven Rivlin on Monday said he supports the full annexation of the West Bank so long as Palestinians residing there are granted equal rights and Israeli citizenship.
Speaking at the rightwing B’Sheva Jerusalem Conference, the president affirmed his belief that “Zion is entirely ours,” and “the sovereignty of the State of Israel must be in all the blocs.”
“It must be clear: If we extend sovereignty, the law must apply equally to all,” he said. “Applying sovereignty to an area gives citizenship to all those living there.”
“There are no separate laws for Israelis and for non-Israelis,” Rivlin added.
A day earlier, the president said that annexation without granting full rights to Palestinians would make Israel look like “an apartheid state.”
Nevertheless, while the president criticized the recently approved so-called Regulation Law – which recognizes thousands of Jewish homes in the West Bank – he emphasized the importance of Israeli sovereignty, and even presented documents showing his own purchase of land four decades ago from a Palestinian in a West Bank neighborhood near Jerusalem.
“This Ashkenazi is registered in Ramallah,” Rivlin quipped.
Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin also addressed the conference, and stressed the importance of accelerating construction in the settlements under the Trump administration after two moratoriums under former president Barack Obama.
“It’s obvious that there is much more understanding by the new American administration regarding the issue of an undivided Jerusalem, and the need to build in the capital,” he said. “The Jewish majority is only a little over 60%, so we need to build at least 4,000 flats every year to accommodate the Jewish population.”
Elkin noted that he was confident President Donald Trump understood the need to build in the capital beyond the Green Line.
“One of the big challenges now is that if we want to keep Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish State, we need to build 6,000 flats every year to make up for the last eight years,” he said. “It’s a strategic issue for us, and I hope the new administration will understand that the future of Jerusalem depends on our possibilities to build, and build a lot.”
Elkin also highlighted his concerns over the current curriculum in Palestinian schools in Jerusalem, saying it was full of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel content which only served to deepen hostilities between the capital’s Arab and Jewish communities.
“The content of the education system in east Jerusalem is established by Ramallah, and it is unacceptable from our point of view,” he said. “A whole generation of Arabs in east Jerusalem have been educated since the Oslo Agreement with anti-Jewish and anti-Israel propaganda. This is exactly the reason the last wave of terror saw the majority of terrorists come from east Jerusalem for the first time in our history.”
Elkin added: “If we want to change this, we need to first change the educational system of east Jerusalem, and we need to invest a lot of money in its infrastructure.”