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“FOR the first time ever, we have a president espousing a one-state solution,” says a delighted Israeli minister. Choosing between one candidate aspiring to divide the Holy Land into two separate states for Jews and Arabs, and another who champions a single state with more or less equal rights for all, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, voted for the second. Reuven Rivlin won 63 votes to his rival’s 53.
Mr Rivlin (pictured above) replaces the 90-year-old Shimon Peres, who for the past two decades has grappled in vain for a two-state settlement. Along with Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s present prime minister, Mr Rivlin opposed Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 by the then prime minister, Ariel Sharon. Instead Mr Rivlin stayed loyal to a small band of hawkish faithful within the Likud party who refused to follow Mr Sharon into a new one closer to the centre. But whereas Mr Netanyahu has reluctantly endorsed the idea of a Palestinian state, Mr Rivlin has never done so. He has clung to the vision of Zeev Jabotinsky, who aspired to turn what was the British mandate of Palestine into a single state with equal rights for Jews and Arabs—with a presumed Jewish majority.
“He’s a liberal,” says Uzi Landau, the tourism minister and fellow ideologue. “He wants one state with equal rights for all,” giving the vote to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Under such a plan, insists Mr Landau, the Jewish state could have a Palestinian leader if a majority voted for one, though “Israel’s underlying character, its holidays and culture, would remain Jewish.”
Full article: A one-stater, at last (The Economist)