Livni Welcomes Rivlin's Criticism

President among a group fighting the "Israeli Tea Party", says Justice Minister in comments on Facebook.

Elad Benari ,

Tzipi Livni
Tzipi Livni
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, head of the Hatnua party, welcomed on Tuesday evening President Reuven Rivlin’s criticism of the controversial Jewish State Law.

Rivlin, who spoke at a conference earlier Tuesday, said, "The State of Israel is the national state of the Jewish people. A small, abhorred minority, undermine this fact, both from within our own and from outside, and so, we must ask ourselves seriously, what is the point of the proposed law - Israel: The National State of the Jewish People."

"Does the promotion of this law, not in fact, question the success of the Zionist enterprise in which we are fortunate to live? Does this proposal, not in fact encourage us to seek contradiction between the Jewish and democratic characters of the state?" asked Rivlin.

In attacking the law, Rivlin claimed, "Judaism and democracy, democracy and Judaism, said as one utterance, are combined, and continue to be so...Jewish is democratic and democracy is Jewish."

Responding to the remarks, Livni wrote on Facebook, "Ruby, a Likudnik with all his soul, a devout Zionist who loves this country with all his heart, said his inner truth on stage. There is no right and no left when it comes to the Declaration of Independence and our deep identity as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Livni continued, “There is a large camp - a Zionist camp - which is fighting against the ‘Tea Party’ of Israeli politics, a radical group that is ready to harm the values that are most important to us.”

The bill, which passed a crucial cabinet vote on Sunday, would emphasize Israel's Jewish character while retaining the democratic rights of all citizens. It relegates Arabic to a "special status" language instead of an official language, and stipulates "the right to realization of national self determination in Israel is exclusive to the Jewish people."

However, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is strongly backing the bill, has said he will amend the bill to make it more "moderate," equalizing Israel's Jewish and democratic status and keeping Arabic as an official language, leading some to question the point of the watered down version.

Livni has been among those who have expressed strong opposition to the bill, along with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid. Both Livni and Lapid have vowed to vote against the bill in its current format.

The vote in the Knesset on the Jewish State Law had been scheduled for Wednesday but has been postponed for several days due to the opposition to it.