President Rivlin: Israel Should Annex West Bank, Give Palestinians Full Citizenship

Only last week did the president say the passage of the so­­­-called land-grab law could cause Israel to look like an apartheid state.

Israel's President Reuven Rivlin at a conference held in Jerusalem by the Besheva newspaper. February 13, 2017
Israel's President Reuven Rivlin at a conference held in Jerusalem by the Besheva newspaper. February 13, 2017 Mark Neuman, GPO

President Reuven Rivlin said on Monday that Israel should annex the West Bank and give full citizenship to those living in the territory, namely the Palestinains.

Though he did not name the Palestinians or the West Bank directly, Rivlin said Tuesday that "I believe that Zion is ours and that Israel's sovereignty should be [extended] to every site.

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"Sovereignty over a certain territory grants citizenship to all who reside there. There's no excuse. There cannot be one law for Israelis and another one for non-Israelis," he told a conference held in Jerusalem by the Besheva newspaper.

Far-right partners in Prime Minister Netanyahu's coalition have called to use what is perceived as a more pro-Israel White House led by Donald Trump to advance the annexation of parts of the West Bank, a demand Netanyahu has resisted.

As president, Rivlin, a former member of the Likud and a longtime supporter of annexing the West Bank and granting Palestinians full civil rights, hold a mostly symbolic role.

A few days ago, Rivlin said he strongly opposes a law, passed by the Knesset last week, allowing private Palestinian land to be expropriated in order to retroactively legalize settlements. The passage of the so­­­-called “Regularization­ Law” could cause Israel to look like an apartheid state, he said.

“Israel has adopted international law. It does not allow a country acting according to it to apply and enforce its laws on territories that are not under its sovereignty. If it does so, it is a legal cacophony. It will cause Israel to be seen as an apartheid state, which it is not,” he said.

“There is no question here. The government of Israel is simply not allowed to apply the laws of the Knesset on territories that are not under the state’s sovereignty,” added Rivlin.

The law passed last week allows Israel to expropriate private Palestinian land in the West Bank where Israeli settlements or outposts have been built. While it does not grant the settlers ownership of the land, it allows them to remain there and denies the Palestinian owners the right to claim the land “until there is a diplomatic resolution of the status of the territories.”