“We are in complex and difficult times for Israel’s leaders, Israeli society and as part of the family of nations. This evening, further emergency regulations came into force that limit our freedom of movement, our liberty, in a way that has never happened before, all for our well-being, all for the welfare of those dearest to us,” he says.
Rivlin calls on Israelis to heed the orders of authorities, saying their lives depend on doing so.
He adds that it is not only the average citizen who must obey orders.
“In these fateful days, the are also the primary duty of the elected officials, the public’s leaders, teachers and guides, from all parts of society. We are witnessing confrontations of the most severe kind between the judiciary and the legislature,” he says.
Without naming Yuli Edelstein, Rivlin addresses his decision to resign earlier today as Knesset speaker and not obey a High Court order to hold a vote today to elect a new speaker.
“I know that the vast majority of Israel’s leadership, from left and from right, knows that it is the duty of every one of us to obey the rulings of the courts, and that it is unthinkable that anyone would not do so.
“Even if someone is of the opinion that the court is wrong in its conduct, whatever the disagreement between us, we must always ensure that the rules of democracy, without which we are destroyed, are upheld. Now that the Knesset speaker has resigned, I am sure that the order of the High Court of Justice will be implemented and Israeli democracy will emerge strengthened and more resilient from these testing times,” he says.
Saying that Israel is in a “time of trouble,” Rivlin issues a fresh call for unity between political leaders.
“Have at the forefront of your minds the terrible disease that is assaulting us and is claiming the lives of our loved ones, that is grievously damaging Israel’s economy and the homes of so many who are battling to survive financially,” he says.
“I know how short the distance is between you. Each side must understand the other’s red lines and to be flexible on them, on the understanding that we have – we simply do not have – an alternative.
“Join together for the good of the Israeli people. If not now, when,” he adds
Rivlin wraps up his speech by saying Israel “will overcome [the virus[ and will come out of this stronger.”
Header: Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (R) and President Reuven Rivlin at the swearing-in of the 23rd Knesset, March 16, 2020. (Mark Heyman and and Haim Zach/GPO)