PM urges ministers to 'stop apologizing' over Nationality Law
Addressing Likud ministers as recently-passed law continues to be the subject of controversy and criticism, Netanyahu defends its significance, demands that they ‘fight for the truth’, insists it does nothing to encroach on equality and accuses the Left of ‘hypocrisy’ for opposing it.
“There is constant defiance against the Nationality Law. The one-sided discourse and the shallow discussions in the studios are accompanied by ignorance,” Netanyahu said in his
opening remarks at meeting of Likud party ministers.
"We have determined the personal equal rights of Israeli citizens in a series of laws including Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, laws that ensure full equality before the law, beginning with the right to vote and be elected to the Knesset and ending with all other personal rights in the State of Israel," Netanyahu said, before highlighting that Israel had never determined the national rights of the Jewish People in its land in a basic law "until now."
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with heads of the Druze authorities who have expressed outrage over the Nationality Law’s passage, which they say demotes them to second-class status despite their interggration and contribution to the military and Israel’s public and private sector.
"The State of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, with full equal rights for all of its citizens. This is the meaning of the words 'a Jewish and democratic state,'" he said.
“We are in talks with Druze representatives. The nation-state is a bedrock of our existence,” Netanyahu added.
The prime minister also devoted his comments to defending the law which caused controversy for declaring that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the Israel.
"What is the meaning of national rights? They define the flag, the national anthem, the language and, of course, the fact that one of the basic goals of the state is the ingathering of exiles of our people and their absorption here in the land of Israel. This is the meaning of the Zionist vision," the prime minister declared.
"Does determining that our flag bears the Star of David somehow abrogate the individual right of anyone among Israel's citizens? Nonsense, but determining this ensures that there will not be another flag," he stated.
"Does determining that Hatikvah is our national anthem detract from the personal rights of any person in Israel? Nonsense, but it does determine that there will not be another anthem. Already there are proposals to replace the flag and the anthem in the name of equality, as it were," Netanyahu continued.
"There is opposition to the idea of a nation-state in many countries, but first of all in the State of Israel, something that undermines the foundation of our existence, and therefore, the attacks emanating from left-wing circles that define themselves as Zionist are absurd and expose the nadir to which the left has sunk," Netanyahu continued.
For decades, the Israeli premier complained, the opposition had “preached” to Israel to return to the pre-1967 border in order to ensure that Israel remained a Jewish state and the national homeland for the Jewish people.
“Then suddenly when we pass a basic law to ensure exactly this, the left cries out in protest? What hypocrisy,” Netanyahu said.
The Israeli Left, he argued, must "search within itself and ask itself why the basic term of Zionism, 'a Jewish national state of the Jewish people in its land', has become a rude term for it, a rude word, a principle that one should be ashamed of. We are not ashamed of Zionism. We are proud of our state, that it is a national home for the Jewish people, which strictly upholds—in a manner that is without peer—the individual rights of all its citizens.
He also addressed the grievances voiced by members of the Druze community, which he said “touch my heart.”
"I want to tell them: There is nothing in this law that infringes on your rights as equal citizens of the State of Israel, and there is nothing in it that harms the special status of the Druze community in Israel. The people of Israel, and I among them, love and appreciate you. We very much esteem the partnership and the covenant between us," he said in a bid to reassure the concerned citizens.
"I am aware of the feelings coming from the community. Therefore, I met with the head of the community and I will continue this dialogue today as well, in order to find solutions that will meet the concerns and give expression to the special partnership between us. I promise you that this partnership of fate will only strengthen," he vowed.