President Reuven Rivlin
President Reuven Rivlin Yaakov Naumi/Flash 90

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday spoke to the 3rd annual Israel Conference on Peace in Tel Aviv and condemned the crowd's reaction to Education Minister Naftali Bennett's (Jewish Home) speech.

"The heckles that were heard here against the Education Minister are unfortunate and inappropriate," Rivlin said. "I want to express my appreciation, to the Knesset members and ministers, especially those on the right of the political map."

"These are people who faced much pressure but insisted on their right and duty to come here – to listen and to be heard.

"Their commitment to maintaining open channels of dialogue is a badge of honor for Israeli democracy, and I hope that the audience here will respect them by listening and holding a poignant and respectful debate.

"The Six Day War was a quick war, a clear and unequivocal victory by the end of which Israel doubled its size more than twice over. We are so focused on the Six-Day victory, that we forget one thing: the continuation of the war.

"The disengagement from Gaza led to the fact that forty years after the Six-Day War, Israel's southern border is identical to the pre-1967 border. Israel's northern border remained the same post-1967 border.

"On Israel's eastern border, the picture is complex. On the one hand, Israel has an agreed-upon border with Jordan, which is the border set after 1967.

"On the other hand, the security barrier was built along a route very close to the Green Line, the eastern border of the State of Israel prior to 1967, and in a way that brings the settlement blocs into the Green Line.

"In between are Judaea and Samaria, which are divided into Areas A, B, and C; some of them are under the rule of the Palestinian Authority, some under full Israeli control, and some have joint control.

"Thus, in practice, almost every decade since the Six-Day War, the State of Israel passes a ruling and carries out a territorial withdrawal – small or large.

"Yes, it is true, the settlements in Judea and Samaria have grown. Blocs and cities were built and the number of settlers is much higher than during the days of the Oslo Accords. But it is clear that our region is dynamic.

"The big picture, the macro, is not at all similar to what the region looked like at the end of 1967. The image of stagnation which many insist upon as if nothing has changed since the Six-Day War, is a misconstrued picture.

"If the past is a sign of the future then sooner or later we will face another decision which will be harder and more complex than any in the past.

"Following the withdrawal from Sinai, the peace treaty with Jordan, the Oslo Accords, the disengagement, and the construction of the security barrier, the territorial maneuverings of the State of Israel are not as large as in the past.

"The dispute between right and left correlates today directly to the core questions at the heart of the State of Israel: Our ability to live here safely versus our existence as a democratic state.

"The margin for error is tiny. The price of each mistake is high.

"And that is why the decision is becoming increasingly difficult, complex, valuable, and threatening. However, as history teaches us, when the time comes, the decision will have to be made. We cannot escape it.

"No less important than our need for a decision is the need to prepare to deal with the decision itself, and with its implications for Israeli society. If Israeli society will not be convinced of the depth of the democratic process and the need to accept democratic law, this decision may tear us apart.

"The nature of the existing political debate, which is based on de-legitimizing the other political camp instead of trying to debate with it, will not only lead to a demagogy, but is dangerous.

"One way or the other it will not be a trivial matter – for a government on the right or left – to create legitimacy for a decision to be made.

"The de-legitimization, contempt, poison and venom, may lead to when the decision is made the members of the losing camp will not respect it.

"Israeli democracy is the Iron Dome of Israeli society.

"We have to stop eroding the value of the democratic currency. We have to stop using cheap and dangerous means of persuasion. We are playing with fire. We must stop marking and 'persecuting traitors', stop giving grades on Zionism.

"We must stop persecuting the State of Israel on different international stages.

"Why should we not all be respected and explain our positions to the public? Thus, those who favor the partition of the land should explain to the public how Israel can ensure its security.

"On the other hand, those who favor keeping the territories should explain how Israel can guarantee its democratic identity without compromises and assumptions alongside its Jewish identity.

"Distinguished guests, as time passes, the decision becomes dearer and more threatening.

"Let's make sure, that we reach it prepared."