Israeli president slams ‘Jewish State’ Bill

Reuven Rivlin is greeted at the Knesset in Jerusalem. FILE PHOTO


Reuven Rivlin  is greeted at the Knesset  in Jerusalem. FILE PHOTO
Reuven Rivlin is greeted at the Knesset in Jerusalem. FILE PHOTO

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has harshly criticised the “Jewish State” nationality bill proposal which was adopted by the cabinet .

“Such a hierarchical approach, placing Jewishness before democracy, misses the great significance of the Declaration of Independence, which combines the two elements together without segregating them,” Rivlin said at an Annual State Prosecutor’s Conference held in the southern town of Eilat

Rivlin also said that Israel’s efforts should be put “not in drawing differences between Judaism and democracy, but in the mutual development and empowerment to be found where they meet”, Xinhua reported Wednesday citing the Ha’aretz daily.

The controversial bill proposal was adopted by the cabinet Sunday, and is set to be voted on in parliament which has the final say over whether the bill would turn into a law.

An initial vote was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but has been postponed to next week due to harsh disagreements over the bill proposal within the governing coalition.

The bill, a joint effort by members of the Likud and the Jewish Home parties, seeks to define Israel in the basic law as the nation state of the Jewish people, while Israel as a democratic state only appears in a different clause.

It also singles out the Jewish “national rights” such as symbols of self-determination like a flag and an anthem, while downgrading the status of Arabic from an official language to one with a special status, in a country where Arabs constitute about one-fifth of the population.

Having a status similar to the constitution, this basic law, if passed, would have court justices adopt these principles during the judicial process.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing for the legislation of the bill, despite the objection of Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, both accusing Netanyahu of using the bill to secure the far-right votes in the upcoming internal election within the Likud party.

Over the weekend, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein also slammed the law’s proposal, saying the bill would “make a real change to the basic principles of the constitutional law… and lead to the deterioration of the democratic characteristic of the state”, according to Ha’aretz.