Netanyahu: Jewish State Bill Essential for Israel

PM Netanyahu says the Jewish State Law "is essential in order to establish Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

Hezki Baruch and Ben Ariel ,

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will on Sunday bring the controversial Jewish State Law to a vote in the Cabinet, as he announced he would do last week, despite continuing objections to it from both Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

Speaking on Saturday night, Netanyahu said the law "is essential in order to establish Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, in light of the international and internal calls against this.”

He added, "Using the law, we will establish Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and establish full equality before the law of all citizens regardless of religion, race or sex. Ensuring the identity of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people does not contradict the equality guaranteed to all citizens of Israel, and I will not allow subversion against two these fundamental principles.”

Meanwhile on Saturday night, Livni, who last week removed the bill from the agenda by purposely wasting time at the meeting of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, once again attacked the law on Facebook.

“I reiterate that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state. I will defend the values of the State of Israel as determined in the Declaration of Independence and will not allow them to be harmed. I support a Constitution that anchors these values, and I will oppose any procedure or law that distorts them - as does the dangerous and anti-Zionist bill proposed by [MK Ze’ev] Elkin, or any similar proposal that carries out a political deal at the expense of those values,” declared Livni.

“Israel is a Jewish and democratic state - not less Jewish than democratic, and not democratic at the expense of Jewish - and I will make any decisions accordingly,” she added.

Meanwhile, Weinstein has issued a harsh legal opinion against the Jewish State Law, saying that "it is very problematic that the government will support proposals that raise serious difficulties".

Weinstein ruled that the Jewish State Law proposes "a real change of the fundamental principles of constitutional law as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Basic Laws of the Knesset.”

MK Yariv Levin (Likud), one of the initiators of the bill, dismissed Weinstein’s criticism of the law on Saturday night, saying, "The statement of the Attorney General is a patronizing statement that has nothing to do with his role as Attorney General or with the legal world.”

“The question of the character of the state and the fundamental values on which it should continue to be built, in a democracy must be answered only through the elected representatives in the Knesset and in the government, and in no way can become the private domain of a handful of lawyers who try to put themselves above the Knesset,” he added.