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The 12 people who will light the torches at the main ceremony for Independence Day next month include no Arabs or other minorities.

The citizens for the celebration at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem were chosen by a public committee from the Information Center of the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry, headed by Hanna Hacohen.

"We try to represent all of Israeli society including minorities, but this year to my regret it did not happen, said Hacohen. This year's theme is "Water: The Source of Life."

Among those chosen to light the torches are Be'er Sheva mayor Ruvik Danilovich. "The city earned its name based on the sources because of Abraham's Well, which according to tradition was dug there by our father Abraham as the source of living water in an arid land. The mayor represents the residents of his city and the south, who are facing an attack of terror from Gaza and have demonstrated strength and amazing steadfastness," stated the committee.

Others chosen to light the torches are Alex Wiznitzer, the chairman of the Mekorot water company, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary; Giora Shaham, who planned the 1995 reflooding of the Hula Valley; and Prof. Menahem Rebhun, an expert in the purification of waste water.

Dr. Hanna Rosenfeld, Herzel Naor, Orit Skotalski, Moshe Cohen, Shlomo Zwaifler, Uri Moran and Esther Avraham and two high-school students will also light torches. All those chosen are involved with water to some degree.

Water is of national importance, and those chosen to light the torches express this, said Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, the chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Ceremonies and Symbols, which is in charge of the official Independence Day celebrations. Independence Day is on April 26.