Far-right minister promotes bill to base government policy on 'Zionist values'

Yitzhak Wasserlauf says legislation will ‘enable us to prioritize IDF soldiers and reservists’ and ‘bolster Jewish settlement in the Negev and Galilee’; critics argue bill opens door to discrimination against non-Jewish citizens
Tova Zimuki|
A far-right minister announced on Wednesday that he is seeking to advance a bill that would steer government decision-making according to "Zionist values."
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The author of the bill—Negev, Galilee, and National Resilience Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir's ultranationalist Otzma Yehudit Party—said that the legislation will affect government policy, legislation, and actions, including in ministries and other governmental bodies.
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עודד פורר, יצחק וסרלאוף ואיתמר בן גביר
עודד פורר, יצחק וסרלאוף ואיתמר בן גביר
Yitzhak Wasserlauf
(Photo: Rafi Kotz)
Wasserlauf stated that the legislation will be predicated on the controversial Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People which was passed in 2018 and enshrines into law Israel's status as the homeland of the Jewish people.
Critics have argued that the Basic Law, one of a collection of laws that act as Israel's de facto constitution, opens the door to discrimination against non-Jewish citizens.
Wasserlauf said that "the bill will enable us to prioritize IDF soldiers in combat roles in particular and IDF reservists in general, bolster Jewish settlement in the Negev and Galilee, and to educate according to Zionist values," and added that "this is a historic decision means 'Zionism above all'.”
Ben-Gvir noted that "We need to explicitly state things that were once naturally understood. Zionism is the core value of the Jewish state. We are returning Zionist values to their rightful place as ones who will guide every government decision."
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יום  הזיכרון בבית העלמין הצבאי בבאר שבע
יום  הזיכרון בבית העלמין הצבאי בבאר שבע
Itamar Ben-Gvir
(Photo: Reuters)
The proposal states that "Zionist values, as expressed in the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, will be guiding and decisive principles in shaping public administration policy, domestic and foreign policy, legislation, and actions of the government and all its units and institutions, both in shaping and implementing public policies - without detracting from the principles found in other Basic Laws."
"The legislation’s aim is to instruct all areas of government and its branches to give weight to Zionist values when determining and implementing policies," the proposal states.
However, according to Dr. Amir Fuchs of the Israel Democracy Institute, if the law will grant unique benefits to Jews in budgets or allocation of land, it will contradict the Declaration of Independence and other Basic Laws, and could lead to discrimination against non-Jewish Israelis under the veneer of "Zionist values" contrary to Israel’s democratic identity.
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היועמ"ש גלי בהרב־מיארה
היועמ"ש גלי בהרב־מיארה
Gali Baharav-Miara
(Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara will be required to address the issue before the government meets to discuss the proposal, but according to legal sources, the bill will face both legal and constitutional challenges.
The proposal is based on a clause in the coalition agreement between Otzma Yehudit and the ruling Likud Party, which states that: "Within 30 days of the government’s establishment, a decision will be made according to which Zionism will be considered as the prime value in shaping public policy, domestic and foreign policy, legislation, and state activities.
“The law will be decisive in areas of planning, tenders, exemptions, and appropriations, while benefiting mainly the Negev, Galilee, and IDF reservists.”
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