The ruling coalition said on Saturday that it would advance legislation of a basic law that would grant the Druze community in Israel special status after its members were among the front-line soldiers fighting Hamas and also among the fallen troops in the war. The new bill, however, would not negate the Nation State law passed in 2018, stating Israel was the national home of Jews, and that was seen as discriminating against the non-Jewish sectors in Israel.
Coalition whip Ofir Katz said the bill hoped to solidify the Druze community's special status in Israel. "We're setting the wheels in motion for the Druze community foundation law in the imminent future. The aim is to enshrine the crucial role of the Druze community within the State of Israel," he said. The proposed legislation will draw upon earlier proposals including minor changes.
During the summer of 2018, over 90,000 Israelis of ethnicities, marched in protest of the bill calling it racist and contrary to the Declaration of Independence. Netanyahu's government at the time refused to include the term equality for all, in the wording of the bill.
The vast majority of Druze men serve in the IDF, unlike other minorities and many have achieved senior military ranks, but Druze leaders have long said the community suffered discrimination from the government despite their loyalty to the state since before its establishment.
The Druze community lacks a nation-state of its own to express its sectarian and religious identity. Such an affiliation is crucial to maintain the community's unique traits, primarily founded on its exclusive and self-contained religion. The proposed law aims to solidify the standing of the Druze community within the State of Israel, while upholding Israel as the nation-state of Jewish people. It also seeks to acknowledge the right of Druze community members, as citizens of the country, to conserve their community's unique qualities and self-definition.
Welfare and Social Affairs Minister, Yaakov Margi, said when he attended the funeral of a Druze officer who was killed in the war, that the government owes its Druze citizens better. "With a bit of determination, we can find a balanced phrasing that deeply embodies the Druze community in the Nation-State Law," he said.
"We didn't enter into a death pact, but a pact of life! And in this pact, one side consistently honors its part with blood and sweat. Regrettably, I'm saying this as a government representative and a long-term member of the Knesset, I've always sensed a feeling of discomfort and injustice. The other side, the sovereign, has failed to reciprocate this lifetime commitment equally, whether it's in housing, land, or employment."
Last night, IDF Spokesperson announced two more Druze soldiers fell in battle in Northern Gaza. They are Staff Sgt. Adi Malik Harb, 19, of the Nahal Infantry Brigade’s reconnaissance unit, from Beit Jann and Maj. Jamal Abbas, 23, a company commander in the Paratroopers Brigade’s 101st Battalion, from Peki’in.
Opposition Chairman and former Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, gave his wholehearted endorsement to the idea. "It's about time, Let's get it done together," he said.
Last June, members of the Druze community clashed with police over the government's plans to establish a renewable energy field of 21 wind turbines, would destroy nature and their lands on the Golan Heights. At least 27 people were injured, including 17 members of the police, five suffered serious wounds and six protesters were arrested. Amid social protests of the coalition's legislative push to change the balance of power between the Government and the Supreme Court, Netanyahu decided to stall the project.