Jerusalem, Israel - Dec. 10, 2018 - “I call on the whole world to denounce terrorism and incitement and to work with Israel to counter it. Needless to say, we expect all elected officials in Israel, local and national, to be clear in expressing zero tolerance for terrorism. It is unthinkable that Israeli elected officials express support for terrorists or terrorist organizations.” President Reuven Rivlin stated on Monday, December 10 / 2 Tevet, at Beit Hanasi, as he met new Israeli mayors and heads of local authorities who were elected to a first term in municipal elections.
The president began by commenting on events yesterday in Ofra: “At this difficult time, our hearts and prayers are with those injured, including a pregnant woman and her baby, and with the entire community of Ofra. Nothing can excuse this despicable act of opening fire on people about to light Chanukah candles. I send my support to the IDF and all the security bodies who work to protect us at all time, and particularly in the last hours. The State of Israel will relentlessly pursue these criminals. There will be no resurgence of terrorism. I call on the whole world to denounce terrorism and incitement and to work with Israel to counter it. Needless to say, we expect all elected officials in Israel, local and national, to be clear in expressing zero tolerance for terrorism. It is unthinkable that Israeli elected officials express support for terrorists or terrorist organizations.”
In the recent municipal elections, 100 new heads of authorities were elected for a five year term, and approximately 60 attended today’s meeting. “More than anything else, I was happy that there is a growing number of women who head authorities,” said the president. “I am happy to see you here today and hope that one day we will not need to count how many women head municipalities and local councils because it will no longer be an exception.”
The president also emphasized that “local government is the key to national prosperity, just as it is to personal and communal growth. And the recent elections have put those keys, which are so valuable, in your hands. Israeli citizens do not meet the ‘Israeli system’ or the ‘government’. They meet you. When there is no park, when the school isn’t doing well, when there is no health center, when there are no jobs, when they need social services, you are the address. You are the face of public service and democracy in Israel. You are the face of public servants. And the minute the elections were over, you serve the whole population under your authority.
The president added, “elections are a time of factions. Now, your role is to take down the walls. You are representatives of the whole public. Jews and Arabs, secular, ultra-orthodox, religious, left and right. It sometimes appears that national politics, which runs as a zero-sum game between tribes and factions, feeds off the tension between them. I believe that local government - where we all face the same environmental problems whether we are ultra-orthodox or secular, where we all want to enjoy public parks and sports facilities whether we are Jews or Arabs, left or right - this is our opportunity to do things differently. Local government is our opportunity for a different political culture. A culture based on finding shared, rather than opposing, interests. An opportunity for political leadership that is more sensitive and attentive, that aspires to balance and compromise. Leadership that allows each group to keep its most precious values without forgoing a sense of partnership. You have the wonderful opportunity to build the foundations of a home for us all, a house we all share...I wish you all success, from the bottom of my heart. You will do so with hard work, belief and incorruptibility. Your success is everyone’s success. It is Israel’s success.”
The new authority heads come from different parts of Israeli society, secular, ultra-orthodox, religious and Arab, Bedouin and Druze. They were congratulated by the president and were called on to discuss the situation in local government and the role of the head of the local authority leader. The first comment was from Bet Shemesh Mayor Aliza Bloch, followed by the Kiryat Shmona and Bnei Brak mayors. The last statement was made by new Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, saying Jerusalem is everyone's city.