Rivlin to announce ‘joint Israeli society’ — and try to curb Palestinian house demolitions

Israel/Palestine
on 23 Comments

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who is the surprise foremost senior official to address inequality over the past year, is set to make his most ambitious policy recommendations for Palestinian citizens of Israel in a speech Sunday at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya.

Rivlin will unveil a steering committee that will seek reforms affecting Palestinian citizens of Israel. According to sources close to Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint Arab List, the chief issues discussed will include a possible one-year moratorium on Israel’s practice of home demolitions for administrative purposes, a path for legal construction inside of all Arab cities, and a comprehensive plan to address unrecognized Bedouin villages, where 180,000 Bedouins citizens live without access to basic services are all at risk of eviction and demolition. The committee will be comprised of “academics and business executives from all sectors of Israeli society,” said the president’s spokesperson in a statement today.

The Joint Arab List (JAL) is Israel’s third largest party and Odeh enjoys a close relationship with Rivlin. The two speak regularly and are said to share many goals. Odeh’s party championed an end to home demolitions and the rights of Bedouins during campaign season last spring. Both issues have top billing in Rivlin’s forthcoming government plan.

Even so, the two leaders have deep differences. Rivlin does not back Odeh’s two-state approach. He supports a “Greater Israel,” where he envisions Palestinians will achieve rights under the banner of a Jewish state with binational characteristics. This idea is set to be echoed in his speech on Sunday where will introduce the concept of a “joint Israeli society” —a notion of who is an Israeli will be expanded to include on equal-footing four segments: Secular-Israelis, religious nationalist, secular nationalist, and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

“Whether we like it or not the ‘structural ownership’ of Israeli society and the State of Israel is changing before our eyes. A boy from Beit-El [a settlement], a boy from Rahat, a girl from Herzliya and a girl from Beitar Illit are educated with completely different approaches,” he will say, according to an early release of the speech–conspicuously dropping the name of an established nationalist settlement (Beit El) into the fold of his new agenda.

“Are we, as members of the Zionist public, able to accept that two major groups which will make up half of the future population of Israeli, do not define themselves as Zionists?” Rivlin will ask. “Whoever is not willing to ask these questions today is not more or less of a Zionist or a Nationalist, but one who is ignoring the most significant challenge put before the Zionist enterprise today.”

Rivlin laid the ground for the recommendations in a speech to a co-existence group last week that addressed Palestinian discrimination: “My independence is your catastrophe.  You build your identity which negates mine, and I build my identity which negates yours.  This basic and formative experience, stands at the very core of the Israel-Palestinian conflict–which has long since turned into a tragedy.” Receiving a prize for his work on reconciliation, Rivlin quoted beloved Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and made reference to the Nakba, when more than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled during the 1948 war. Sharing the stage was Odeh,.

The committee of experts will meet over the next year under the leadership of the president. They expected to consult directly Arab-Palestinian citizens, among other civil society sectors. It will submit a four-chapter program to the government at the next IDC conference in 2016. In previous government bodies similarly convened, Palestinian citizens of Israel were near uniformly kept out of the decision making process.

Broadly, the precepts developed by Rivlin’s task-force will examine inequality in land use, social services, education, poverty, and  “cultural autonomy,” said the president’s spokesperson. Under the header of land rights, the group is expected to pay special focus to demolitions. While the president will not seek the removal of a building law dating to 1965 that codified Israel’s use of home demolitions, he will review other options to moot the policy’s effects—at least temporarily. This will also include creating a pathway for Palestinian citizens of Israel to receive building permits from the government. Meaning, neither Israeli law, nor the structure of the state will be challenged through the meetings. Rather a balloon package of reforms will be proposed to override specific areas of discrimination.

It is not clear if East Jerusalem will be included in the discussions, a region of high rates of home razing. It is part of the occupied Palestinian territory, although East Jerusalem has been administered by Israeli law since the 1980s. Therefore it should benefit from the president’s plan unless specifically excluded. In 2014 Israel demolished 51 units in East Jerusalem, making 167 people homeless according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

Also not mentioned will be the Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, according to sources close to Odeh.

“Civil rights and equality for Arab society,” will heavily guide the course of Rivlin’s future work, a spokesperson for Odeh, Anan Maalouf, said. Odeh will speak at the conference too—along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and nationalists leaders Naftali Bennett and Tzipi Hotovely, all of whom have drummed against the creation of a Palestinian state over the past few weeks. By contrast Odeh will relay “the right of the Palestinian people to have their own state, their own nation,” Maalouf said. His audience will include every major Israeli politician not to mention former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Odeh’s upcoming remarks should be watched closely. Few Arab leaders have been invited to the podium and the subjects usually stick close to security, Iran, and Israel’s economy. For Odeh his highest priority is “lands,” he told Lally Weymouth days ago, the senior associate editor of the Washington Post known for her sit-downs with chiefs of state. In the interview he said, “We are 18 percent [of the population], but we have 2.5 percent of the lands.”

Odeh has clearly surpassed opposition leader Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Camp in garnering headlines in international press. The exact extent to which his sway will translate in government has yet to be seen. But his coming speech Sunday will serve as an indicator for his platform while in office.

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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23 Responses

  1. a blah chick
    June 6, 2015, 10:38 am

    “Odeh has clearly surpassed opposition leader Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Camp in garnering headlines in international press.”

    Like choosing musakhan over a slice of white bread.

    • just
      June 6, 2015, 10:44 am

      +100, abc!

      You said it! I was going to paste that very same quote and make a comment, now I got nuthin’! Bravo!

  2. pabelmont
    June 6, 2015, 11:17 am

    Rivlin’s proposals are in the direction of achieving one of BDS’s three goals — a non-discriminatory Israel-48. What about BDS’s other two goals?

    Since Rivlin seems not to favor an Israeli withdrawal from OPTs, one must point out to him — question him! — as to his intent for a follow-on to today’s apartheid one-state regime. Does he favor full citizenship for all who live within The Land? Does he favor a fully non-discriminatory rule of law for all residents of The Land as he is suggesting he does for Israel-48?

    L:astly, perhaps it is too early to tax him with the question of PRoR which, in a 1SS, would be a question about the return of refugees (exiles) to the entire territory once called Palestine rather than a question of a return only to WB&G as the question might have seemed to some (Zionists only!, not UNGA) in the context of a 2SS based on the green line.

  3. ritzl
    June 6, 2015, 11:56 am

    This is why Peter Beinart is so myopic and wrong regarding one state. When he says “nobody on either side,” “no way,” and “never” about one state, little embryonic relationships like this put the lie to those kinds of absolutist, my-way-or-the-highway/just-because-I-say-so/pure preference, projection ravings.

    Who knows how hard it’s going to be or how long it’s going to take, but so it begins…

  4. Bornajoo
    June 6, 2015, 5:19 pm

    “Since Rivlin seems not to favor an Israeli withdrawal from OPTs, one must point out to him — question him! — as to his intent for a follow-on to today’s apartheid one-state regime. Does he favor full citizenship for all who live within The Land? Does he favor a fully non-discriminatory rule of law for all residents of The Land as he is suggesting he does for Israel”

    Good questions Pabelmont. My own observations are that Rivlin says the right things but remains vague on the specifics. The cynical side of me (which these days is over 99% of me) tells me that he’s more interested in repairing Israel’s international image than anything else.

    But I might be suffering from (understandable) irreversible chronic cynicism. Terrible affliction

    • a blah chick
      June 6, 2015, 9:01 pm

      I think that Rivlin should be counted as a member of that dwindling number of Zionists who are relatively sane. He understands that if Zionism is to be saved it must be “rescued” from the lunatics. To that end he understands that Israel will need to make compromises, that is allow the non-Jews those “goodies” that don’t impact Jewish privilege. So why not build some Arab towns, stop house demolitions and invest more money in Arab communities. Do things that will ameliorate Arab complaints without impacting the special status Jews enjoy.

      Would this work, probably not but the pinheads that currently run the country would not do it because sticking to the Arabs is too ingrained in their nature. For them compromise is viewed as weakness.

      • Doubtom
        June 8, 2015, 11:26 am

        Speaking of house demolitions and its ‘codification’, what is it the undergirds the right to demolish an existing home in the first place? What phony reasoning allows the Israelis to demolish an occupied home. Are we to accept that there’s both sound reasoning and fairness in the destruction of someone’s home just because it doesn’t ‘now’ have a piece of paper that wasn’t available ‘when’ the home was constructed? Is it the asinine?

  5. Sulphurdunn
    June 6, 2015, 8:44 pm

    It seems the most rational outcome of the last 50 years would be a single, multiethnic state with a declared and legally binding bill or rights for all of those living within Israel/Palestine. It wouldn’t hurt to declare lands still in Palestinian control semi-autonomous regions with the goal of eventual unification through Palestinian plebiscite.

  6. Ramzi Jaber
    June 7, 2015, 12:01 pm

    Check this out by Rivlin: Demographic changes have created a ‘new Israeli order’ http://www.timesofisrael.com/women-moderately-injured-in-ramle-stabbing/

    Rivlin knows that 2SS is dead and that the only solution is 1S1P1V. No one person, no military force, no political power can stop this. It’s happening due to demographics, the truly and only unstoppable human power. Demographics always wins!

    Rad carefully what he said, I’m paraphrasing here: “Our society is getting re-ordered into four TRIBES of roughly equal size: secular Jews, national religious, Haredim, and Arabs. There is no longer a clear majority, nor a clear minority group. Not only each group doesn’t interact with the others, they each have a different education, a different set of values, and a different vision of who we are and where we will be as a state.”

    In other words (my words), the zionist entity is coming apart at the core. It is founded on an ideology that is unsustainable, unstable, unjust, and unnatural. When the core is rotten, the entire entity disintegrates.

    Rivlin knows that zionism backfired on its initial goal of protecting Jews. He knows zionism is fading. So he is trying his best to protect the rights of Jews in a future Palestinian state where Jews are not a majority. Something that the founders of zionism should have focussed on from the outset, which is protecting the rights of Jews as a viable and vibrant minority in any country they happen to be living in, instead of stealing someone else’s land.

    • Bornajoo
      June 7, 2015, 12:18 pm

      Thanks for the article and also your summary of it Ramzi.

      Super comment.

      I just hope that your prediction comes true and as fast as possible

      But please don’t put it past the right wing nationalist/religious mob to try and do something to prevent this demographic time bomb from taking its course. They know full well what’s taking place and unfortunately I just don’t believe they will just sit back and let it happen. I’m extremely worried, and have been for some time, that these maniacs will take drastic action to try and keep the Zionist Jewish state going.

      • Ramzi Jaber
        June 7, 2015, 12:45 pm

        Bornajoo, I totally agree with you. We cannot be complacent and must remain vigilant. BDS/ICC/ICJ must continue. The zionists will not take it laying down. They already want to move the largest Palestinian population centre in the Triangle area to a future “Palestinian cantonized autonomous” region to extend their majority. But these shenanigans are temporary as I believe that justice is eternal and certain on the long run. Also, the natural laws of stability are proof that unstable realities and foundations do not last. We will win over zionism and we will have a peaceful and democratic and just state for Christians, Moslems, and Jews to live together in harmony and equality.

      • Bornajoo
        June 7, 2015, 2:08 pm

        Amen to that Ramzi.

      • Ramzi Jaber
        June 7, 2015, 2:12 pm

        Bornajoo, I was thinking more about what you said. Of greater danger to us is not the conniving, calculating, and criminal zionists, but much more are the treason, treachery, and trickery of the so-called Arab leaders especially Jordan, Egypt, Saudi, and Emirates. They are the ones who are stabbing us in the back and allying with the zionists for their own personal interests.

      • just
        June 7, 2015, 2:21 pm

        Thanks for this discussion, Ramzi and Bornajoo.

        “Of greater danger to us is not the conniving, calculating, and criminal zionists, but much more are the treason, treachery, and trickery of the so-called Arab leaders especially Jordan, Egypt, Saudi, and Emirates. They are the ones who are stabbing us in the back and allying with the zionists for their own personal interests.”

        They are a huge danger, Ramzi. They are also much valued ‘allies’ of the United States of America… it’s a very dangerous mix.

    • echinococcus
      June 7, 2015, 1:03 pm

      Rivlin knows that 2SS is dead and that the only solution is 1S1P1V.

      Zionists have known that from the start, at least since 1937!
      At no time has there been any Zionist program considering two states. Zionism requires tribal unity, to replace the monolithic religious unity of states gone by.
      The Weitz quota, capping the “Arabs” to 15% of the population for all of Palestine (because “Israel” in Zionist language is all of Palestine) was edicted even before the Nakba. As a temporary measure for the 1940es, to be diluted to insignificance by successive Herrenvolk immigration.
      Judging by the action of both hardliners and liberal Zionists, obviously the program, 1S1P1V, hasn’t changed at all.
      The Zionist plans of expulsion of “Arabs” to “Arab countries” failed and now they are trying to come up with a formula to commit definitive genocide with no worse penalty than a slap on the wrist.

      • Ramzi Jaber
        June 7, 2015, 4:00 pm

        echinococcus, good points. I didn’t think of that angle.

      • Bornajoo
        June 7, 2015, 4:01 pm

        Totally agree Ramzi and Just. They are just as dangerous as the Zionists. Good point

        “The Zionist plans of expulsion of “Arabs” to “Arab countries” failed and now they are trying to come up with a formula to commit definitive genocide with no worse penalty than a slap on the wrist.”

        That’s exactly what I honestly believe they are going to try and do Echinococcus. You summarised it perfectly.

    • tokyobk
      June 7, 2015, 7:45 pm

      “Something that the founders of zionism should have focussed on from the outset, which is protecting the rights of Jews as a viable and vibrant minority in any country they happen to be living in.”

      Amen. That should have been the goal and, I believe, still can and should be the goal for all people of good will.

      • just
        June 7, 2015, 8:07 pm

        +1, tokyobk.

        Amen.

    • RoHa
      June 7, 2015, 9:26 pm

      Fascinating stuff.

      “protecting the rights of Jews as a viable and vibrant minority in any country they happen to be living in,”

      I’d agree with Jews having equal individual rights, and those rights being as protected as everyone else’s rights, but I can’t see why they have to be a viable and vibrant minority.

      (Hint to TOI translator: “Not only does each group not interact …” is the correct construction. )

  7. bintbiba
    June 7, 2015, 6:16 pm

    Ramzi (I’m glad you’re back )
    Bornajoo
    Just
    Echinococcus

    Fascinating and illuminating discussion . Thanks to all of you .

    I’m ever wavering between Hope and Misgivings as things always look like they have to get much worse before they even begin to get better.

    The Billionaires in the US who give unwavering support to the Zionist State with all the dysfunction within itself …. they hold so much power over the politicians and lawmakers….the cards are stacked in such a way that with all the corruption around it is so hard to stay hopeful and confident… yet we must keep the faith…..

    @ Ramzi
    “……..also, the natural laws of stability are proof that unstable realities and foundations do not last. We will win over zionism and we will have a peaceful and democratic and just state for Christians, Moslems, and Jews to live together in harmony and equality.
    “- See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/06/weekend-reforms-israeli#comments

  8. iResistDe4iAm
    June 7, 2015, 10:27 pm

    “…the chief issues discussed will include a possible one-year moratorium on Israel’s practice of home demolitions for administrative purposes, a path for legal construction inside of all Arab cities, and a comprehensive plan to address unrecognized Bedouin villages, where 180,000 Bedouins citizens live without access to basic services are all at risk of eviction and demolition.”

    “…[he] will introduce the concept of a “joint Israeli society” —a notion of who is an Israeli will be expanded to include on equal-footing four segments: Secular-Israelis, religious nationalist, secular nationalist, and Palestinian citizens of Israel.”

    How dare Rivlin try to curb Israel’s apartheid DNA.
    Who does he think he is, Rabin?
    If he doesn’t curb his enthusiasm for justice soon, he could very well end up with the same fate as Rabin.

  9. can of worms
    June 7, 2015, 11:44 pm

    For a 1s1P1V, much can be in the hands of the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

    It is complex, because some of them, not all, have turned into Zionist tools, or into Zionists themselves. Those from the socialist party have been duped into thinking that a 1ss is “impossible”. Here we have Odeh giving up, wholesale, on the refugee rights in Isra-Palestine, promoting “the right of the Palestinian people to have their own state….his audience will include every major Israeli politician…and Sarkozy.” Meanwhile he gets small perks like “committees” (made up a 3:1 Jewish/Palestinian ratio) to “discuss” “reforms”. Not to mention many Druze become Zionist tools in the IOF. Many citizens think they can integrate and get to the top of the system rather than work to overturn the system. The most tragic part is they are deluded into thinking that they themselves will EVER have equality in 100% segregation. They are duped into thinking that they can live in separated cities and go to separate language schools and ever know civic equality. There is no such thing as separate but equal. A few people will get to be elites but the main population will always remain racially stratified with Palestinians on the very bottom — one up above refugees from Sudan and Eritrea. But then again, many are rightly and understandably afraid in the current situation to desegregate the schools, because their children come from such a lower socio-economic standing that they will become easy prey to humiliation by well-off Jewish kids of their age who come from the gated communities and suburbs of the heavily-invested ‘Judaized’ areas of the north.

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