Israeli President Reuven Rivlin criticized the right-wing over its stance that "a Jewish democratic state means a democratic state for Jews."
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin criticised the right-wing over its stance that "a Jew Reuters

President Reuven Rivlin says Jews must learn to live alongside Arabs in a democratic Israel state.

Speaking at the Israel Conference on Democracy, Israel's president criticised the country's right-wing over its stance that a Jewish democratic state was exclusively for Jews and could not include the country's non-Jewish Arab minority.

"This is not something I am willing to accept or live with," he told Haaretz editor-in-chief Aluf Benn. "Peace [with Palestinians] will come only when we are willing to live together without threatening them or them threatening us. We need to build confidence".

While Israel is the world's only majority Jewish state, a bill advanced by Israel's cabinet in November, 2014, sought to make the state's Jewish status official, legally defining Israel as "the national state of the Jewish people".

Rivlin said the notion of stripping Israeli Arabs of their citizenship -- a land-swap plan advanced by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on 5 January, 2015 -- was both impractical and immoral.

The president said he disagreed with Lieberman's proposals to transfer the towns and villages of the Wadi Ara Triangle where several Arab localities are concentrated (including Umm el-Fahm, Taibe, Tira and Kfar Kassem) to the Palestinians.

"Even if the right will come and say that Umm el-Fahm was outside of the State of Israel's borders, this would be impossible," he said. "A treaty will not alter the topography or the demography."

The conference was boycotted by members of the right including Netanyahu's party Likud, Habayit Hayehudi, a religious Zionist political party, and Arye Deri, chairman of the ultra-orthodox political party Shas, because it was sponsored by the New Israel Fund, a major player in fostering equality and democracy in Israel.