Compromise Worked Out for Independence Day Torchlighting

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israeli officials have reached a compromise concerning the role of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Independence Day ceremonies, The Times of Israel reported on Tuesday.

An agreement putting to rest a controversy over his participation calls for Netanyahu to light a torch and deliver brief remarks at the state ceremony marking Israel’s 70th Independence Day, on behalf of all the governments of Israel since the founding of the state.

The arrangement was announced in a joint statement by the prime minister and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. The latter had threatened to boycott the ceremony if Netanyahu was on the speakers list, claiming that prime ministers have not been allowed to give speeches in order to avoid politicization of what is intended as a unifying event.

However, footage uncovered last week showed that Netanyahu, in his first term as prime minister, did participate at the ceremony in 1998 — marking Israel’s 50th anniversary.

“I am glad that reason and stateliness overcame personal considerations, and the prime minister will take part in the torch-lighting ceremony,” said Minister of Culture Miri Regev, who had started the spat with Edelstein with her announcement that the PM would be speaking.

“I intend to arrange that every decade the prime minister will light a torch on behalf of the state in honor of the governments of Israel,” she said.