President Rivlin: We must shape diplomatic future to avoid conflict

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said yesterday that the country must use diplomacy to shape its own future, rather than be fooled by the illusion of stability.

Rivlin spoke at a ceremony on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl to mark the 42nd anniversary of the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, when the Egyptian and Syrian armies launched a surprise attack on Israel during the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Although Israel was eventually victorious, 2,673 Israeli soldiers were killed during the weeks that followed. The 1973 war was a traumatic episode for Israeli society, considered a failure of intelligence and the result of the leadership’s over-confidence.

With that in mind, Rivlin said yesterday, “Israeli society must be critical of its leadership, to bravely ask questions.” He added, “Israel in 2015 — must not become addicted to that same false stability; [as in 1973] it must dare and initiate. Even under conditions of uncertainty we must shape the diplomatic and strategic horizon with our own hands.”

Turning to the families of those killed during the Yom Kippur War, who also attended yesterday’s ceremony, Rivlin acknowledged that time does not heal their loss. He described the war as “an open wound” for Israeli society, even after more than four decades.

Also attending yesterday’s ceremony was Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon. He too echoed Rivlin’s yearning for peace, but cautioned that there are also many regional dangers. He said that Israel must “continue to pursue real peace with the peoples of the region, but to not be drawn by illusions; to be alert to frequent changes, to leave no stone unturned to be better, more up-to-date, and more ready.” He added, “We must continue to act with strength and determination, with responsibility and discretion, against those who seek remove us these days as well — along our borders, within them, and even far from them.”

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