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Tzipi Livni 'Will Oppose Defining Israel as Jewish Nation-State'

Mixed reactions to Prime Minister's proposal to propose new Basic Law, as Justice Minister vows to oppose it.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 5/1/2014, 6:20 PM

Tzipi Livni
Tzipi Livni
Israel news photo: Flash 90

There have been mixed reactions to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to advance a new Basic Law enshrining Israel's status as the Jewish nation-state.

"One of my main missions as Prime Minister of Israel is to bolster the status of the State of Israel as the national state of our people. To this end, it is my intention to submit a basic law to the Knesset that would provide a constitutional anchor for Israel's status as the national state of the Jewish people," the Prime Minister said, adding the move was in response to concerted attempts to deny or erode the Jewish character of the State of Israel.

The reactions have predictably been split between left and right, with coalition chairman Yariv Levin, from Netanyahu's own Likud party, enthusiastically hailing the move as a restoration of Zionist values, and a spokesperson for left-wing Justice Minister Tzipi Livni vowing to thwart it.

Levin congratulated the Prime Minister for what he termed a "historic decision, that will bring Israel back to a Zionist course after years of ongoing legal eroding of the fundamental principles, upon which the state was founded."

"The prime minister has instructed me to push forward with the legislation without delay, as a continuation of the original bill I initiated," he added.

But Hatnua party head and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni pledged to do everything in her power to prevent the passage of the law.

"I will continue to defend the values of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and will under no circumstance allow anyone to weaken its democratic values and to subordinate them to Jewish ones," she said. "That is the essence of the Declaration of Independence and that is the basis for our existence."

"Just as I have opposed in the past such initiatives, I will do the same (this time), and it doesn't matter who is proposing it," she said, in a swipe at the Prime Minister.

Indeed this is not the first time such an addition to Israel's Basic Laws has been attempted, only for Livni to shoot it down.

In 2011 Avi Dichter, a member of the Kadima party, had attempted to pass such a law, but it was shot down by Tzipi Livni, who at the time was the leader of the Kadima party. In 2013, Levin brought forth a mellowed version of a similar bill, which also was not advanced.