Rivlin: Confederation with Palestinians may be ‘momentous opportunity’ for peace

Day after Abbas backs idea, Israel's president says 'we need to find a way to live together, and life together could certainly be in a confederation'

President Reuven Rivlin speaks at the official ceremony marking Jerusalem Day at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem on May 13, 2018. (Screen capture: Ynet)

President Reuven Rivlin expressed support for a confederation, reportedly floated by the United States in talks with Ramallah, as a possible solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Speaking at a conference organized by Hadashot TV news, Rivlin said Monday such a solution could be “a momentous opportunity” to achieve trust between Israel and the Palestinians.

“We need to find a way to live together, and life together could certainly be in a confederation,” he said without giving further details.

Jordan on Sunday rejected the proposal, allegedly floated by US administration officials, calling for the creation of a Palestinian-Jordanian-Israeli confederation. Jordanian government spokeswoman Jumana Ghunaimat said that joining the kingdom with the West Bank — the bulk of the area that Palestinians want for a future state and that has been controlled by Israeli since 1967 — is not on the table.

Word of the alleged US offer first came from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who told a delegation of Israeli peace activists earlier on Sunday that he would be interested in a tripartite confederation with Jordan and Israel, according to the peace activists and a Palestinian official.

“‘I said [to US envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt]: ‘Yes, I want a three-way confederation with Jordan and Israel.’ I asked them if the Israelis would agree to such a proposal,” a statement by Peace Now quoted Abbas as saying.

While some Israelis who are opposed to an independent Palestinian state have long suggested some kind of confederation, with or without Jordan, the PA has so far clung to its demand for sovereignty in the framework of a two-state solution.

At Monday’s conference, Rivlin also spoke of the recently passed nation-state law. The law was forcefully condemned by Israel’s Arab citizens, who make up some 20 percent of the population, as well as the country’s Druze minority.

Rivlin said that regardless of the law, “every citizen in the State of Israel is an equal citizen…Jews and non-Jews.”

He added that individuals “should not only receive full equality but feel equal.”

The law, passed by the Knesset on July 19, for the first time anchors Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people,” and says “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” It also defines Arabic as a language bearing a “special” status, effectively downgrading it from its de facto status as Israel’s second official language, though it cryptically also says the status of Arabic remains untouched.

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