Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu repeated his support for the nation-state law Sunday, rejecting allegations that the controversial measure undermines Israel’s democracy and underlining the importance of enshrining Israel’s Jewish character in law.
“The State of Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, with complete equality of rights for all citizens,” Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting. “This is the meaning of the words ‘Jewish and democratic state.”
Netanyahu said that a series of laws already on the books serve to ensure individual freedoms for all Israelis, including the 1992 Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty and laws that ensure basic freedoms such as the right to vote and to stand for election.
But responding to ongoing protests by minority groups – last week, a group of Druze IDF veterans called for the measure to be repealed, and Saturday Arab MK Zohair Bahaloul (Zionist Union) resigned from the Knesset to protest the law – Netanyahu defended the justice of defining Israel as a Jewish country and said the definition should not offend non-Jews.
“What is the meaning of this law? It defines the flag, the national anthem, language and of course the fact that one of the basic goals of the country is the ingathering of the exiles of our nation and absorbing them here in the land of Israel. This is the substance of the Zionist vision.
“Does the fact that our flag has a Star of David mean anything negative for the individual rights of any Israeli citizen? Of course not. But it does guarantee that there won’t be any other flag. Does the fact that Hatikva is our national anthem detract from the personal rights in Israel? Of course not. But it does guarantee that there won’t be any other national anthem… There have already been suggestions of changing the flag and the anthem in the name of equality,” Netanyahu said.
The premier also denounced his critics on the left, saying their criticism of the nation-state law shows their duplicity.
“For decades, the opposition has been lecturing us about the need to withdraw to the 1967 lines in order to ensure that Israel continues to be the nation state of the Jewish people with a strong Jewish majority. Now, all of a sudden when we legislate a basic law that ensures exactly that point, the left is all out-of-sorts? It’s complete hypocrisy,” he said.
By: TPS Staff