.Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni, next to Moshe Ya
.Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni, next to Moshe YaFlash 90

A sharp confrontation took place on Sunday afternoon in the Knesset Ministerial Committee for Legislation after committee head Justice Minister Tzipi Livni removed the discussion on the Jewish State bill, that seeks to define Israel as the State of the Jewish People, from the agenda.

Several of those who attended the meeting told Arutz Sheva that Livni purposely wasted time at the meeting, leaving only the last few minutes for a hurried discussion of the law before announcing that the debate on it is to be put off for a later date.

Science Minister Yaakov Peri  (Yesh Atid) warned that the law is a dangerous and explosive one, saying "the bill may insult the Arab sector and its timing is bad. I suggest it be removed for good."

Minister Livni reminded the ministers present that in the past several similar bills were proposed and that they must be debated in the presence of all the coalition parties, citing the advice of the Gavison-Meidan Covenant (a proposal created by Prof. Ruth Gavison and Rabbi Yaacov Meidan for religious-secular coexistence). "Passing this law today may impede that [cooperative] process. I am using my authority to put off the debate", she announced.

The Likud and Jewish Home ministers present at the meeting were furious at Livni and a loud argument broke out within minutes.  

Minister Yuval Steinetz (Likud) told her "you are exploiting your authority in a detrimental way" and Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) added "You are undermining the committee". Livni paid no attention to them, left the room and returned with the by-laws of the ministerial committee that show that she has the authority to postpone the debate.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, who heard about Livni's decision, announced immediately that the debate on the Jewish State Law would be put on the Cabinet's agenda, in effect circumventing Livni's attempt to block it. He said "The state of Israel is the national state of the Jewish People. This issue is a crucial one for the future of the Jewish People in the State of Israel."

Knesset Coalition head, MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) reacted sharply to Livni's postponement of the debate and said that "she doesn't stop at any dirty tricks, this to stop a basic law defining Israel as the national state of the Jewish People. Livni knew full well that there was a clear majority that would vote in favor of the law in the ministerial committee, so, trampling on accepted procedure, she decided to break up the debate and prevent a vote. "

"None of these shenanigans  will work", he continued.  "A large majority in the Cabinet, the Knesset and the public are still unashamed of their Zionism and are prepared to defend the declaration that the State of Israel is a Jewish State. 

"n Livni's behavior today, she revealed her true visage, showing that all her speeches on the importance of guarding the Jewish character of the State of Israel were worthless, used  in an attempt to justify withdrawals from territory and concessions to the Palestinians, and for external consumption only. When push comes to shove, Minster Livni is willing to go to any lengths to prevent declaring that the State of Israel is a Jewish State".

Minister of Justice Livni's responded, to the storm, retorting: "I will not give up on democracy. I will continue to fight to keep Israel the country of the Jewish People but also a democratic one. That is the foundation of Zionism, that is what was established in our Declaration of Independence and that is how it is going to be."

Livni's "shenanigans" may have done more than merely angered her right-wing coalition partners, however, and may threaten  the very coalition itself.

The Jewish Home party's leader, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, announced in response to Livni's moves that his party would no longer be supporting any bills proposed by her Hatnua party or Peri's Yesh Atid party, which also opposed the Jewish State law - in breach of coalition agreements.