Reuven Rivlin
Reuven RivlinMark Neiman/GPO

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spoke at the 70 Years of Democracy Conference of the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) and Makor Rishon Sunday and referred to the tension over the investigations against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the ongoing coalition crisis.

"Even democratic decisions are liable to undermine democratic values, and the people in this room know very well how a population that experienced what is in the formal sense a democratic decision but which is not democratic at the substantive level," President Rivlin said.

"Democracy is a fragile enterprise. Democracy is a project that is exposed on all sides, from within and without, to large forces that threaten to undermine its foundations. Too much power for the few capitalists, and democracy weakens, too much power for strong interest groups or sectors, and democracy weakens. An increase in power for one of the branches [of government] over its two sisters - and democracy weakens "

He said that "Israeli democracy, like its sisters in the entire democratic world, from the east and the west, is not completely immune, and I sometimes feel too much fear around me. Too many people are afraid of disagreement, criticism, while I really believe in our strength and that we can therefore afford to allow ourselves to stop being afraid."

Rivlin spoke about the dispute over sovereignty in Judea and Samaria: "In this room today are those who think that the future of the state will be decided only by dividing the land and separating from our Palestinian neighbors. There are many others here, like me, who do not believe in partition, and who think there is room to examine the application of Israeli sovereignty and law over Judea and Samaria, and some believe that Israeli law can be applied to parts of Judea and Samaria."

He added that "those who favor secession seek to strengthen the identity of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and to consolidate Israeli sovereignty within agreed borders. Those who support sovereignty must speak for the same values: strengthening the State of Israel within defensible borders, Which means equal rights for every citizen, within sovereign Israel."

"We are strong, we are a strong country and a strong society, and if we decide to go a certain way, let's not do it half-way, stuttering or out of fear and I want to make another comment on the agenda ... We are strong enough to build strong institutions for our democracy A citizen, institutions like a court, institutions like the police and a state army, headed by excellent people, true patriots, and at the same time we are strong enough to absorb and criticize these institutions, so long as they do not become delegitimized. Our leadership, so long as it does not infiltrate into incitement and delegitimization without fearing that criticism is hurting us We are strong and if we continue to hold such meetings, we will be even stronger," the president concluded.