Justice Minister Tzipi Livni announced late Monday night that she had appointed renowned Prof. Ruth Gavison to draft a constitutional provision defining the exact dimensions of what it means for Israel to be a “Jewish and democratic state.”

Livni highlighted that this was the “first time” that a comprehensive effort on this issue was being undertaken, implying that prior efforts had been targeted at narrow aspects of the issue.

She added that this definition was necessary in light of “the substantive societal and legal dispute, and the many proposed laws in which every part of the political map is trying to force its worldview” on the rest of the state.

A press release said that Livni made the appointment “with the agreement of the prime minister and the heads of the parties in the coalition.”

Livni said that she told Gavison that she “believes that the time has arrived to draft a constitutional framework that deals with the character of the State of Israel as Jewish and democratic, and anchors the components of the identity in a balanced way, integrating these values, the Jewish and the democratic.”

Prof. Gavison said in response, “I will act with the purpose of supporting the desire to advance and to constitutionally anchor the identity of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, according to the spirit specified in the Declaration of Independence.”

In mentioning the “constitutional” aspects of the issue, the press release did not indicate whether the new initiative would be framed as a Basic Law or have some other special status.

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