Rivlin to Abbas: 'Let's Forget About the Past, End the Conflict'

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Rivlin speaking at a United Nations luncheon, earlier today
Rivlin speaking at a United Nations luncheon, earlier today
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

President Reuven Rivlin used a luncheon at the United Nations on Tuesday to tell the Palestinians it’s necessary to forget the past, so the two peoples can live together.

In his remarks, which were an unplanned introduction to his prepared speech, he addressed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas directly, referring to him as “my neighbor and my partner.”

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Then, noting that the conflict had already gone on for 120 years, he continued, “Let's forget about the past. We are not doomed to live to together, we are destined to live together. It's our role to end conflict.”

It took the Jews 2,000 years to return to Jerusalem after the destruction of the Second Temple, and throughout that time, they prayed for a return three times a day, Rivlin said. And while Israel will always remain a Jewish state as long as it’s democratic, the two sides can reach an understanding on how to live together.

Finally, he urged Abbas, “Let's build confidence” by discussing the future, concluding, “There are opportunities to achieve a bright future for our peoples.”

President Mahmoud Abbas speaks at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah in May.Credit: Majdi Mohammed / AP

The luncheon was organized by Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, for Rivlin and 21 ambassadors from friendly countries. They included the ambassadors of the United States, Russia, Morocco, Bahrain and Bhutan.

Unlike Rivlin, Erdan assailed Abbas in his own remarks, saying that just that morning, Abbas had given a shameful speech in which he claimed Israel was a colonialist implant in the Middle East put there to divide and weaken the region.

Erdan also charged that Israel’s enemies use baseless statements made at the United Nations to delegitimize the country. Israelis, he added, don’t understand why an organization comprised of many countries with which Israel has good relations discriminates against it by issuing many more resolutions and statements against Israel than they do against other countries that truly threaten world peace, like Iran.

The U.S. ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, spoke after Rivlin and said the reception he received from President Joe Biden in Washington was a true reflection of the ties between the two countries. She also thanked him for his years of work in promoting American-Israeli relations and said she was proud to stand with Israel.

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