Netanyahu pushes law to make Israel the Jewish nation-state

By Rosa Doherty, May 2, 2014
Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced plans to promote new legislation that will protect Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

Speaking at the Independence Hall in Tel Aviv, Mr Netanyahu said: “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.”

But figures within Mr Netanyahu’s coalition have vowed to oppose such a move.

Isaac Herzog said that even though “the Labour party vehemently supports Israel as a Jewish and democratic state … no law can conceal” the prime minister’s policies which “will cause the loss of the Jewish majority and turn Israel to a bi-national state”.

Tzipi Livni said she will oppose defining Israel as Jewish nation state.

She said:“By no means will we allow for the weakening of democratic values and their subjugation to the Jewish ones,” a formula, she said, that is enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

Mr Netanyahu said that the legislation would help in the fight against those who “seek to undermine the historical, moral and legal justification for the existence of the state of Israel as the nation-state of our people.”

He added: “There are those who do not recognise this natural right,” hinting at the persistent refusal of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during recent peace talks to recognise Israel as a Jewish nation state.

Last updated: 11:05am, May 2 2014