Netanyahu at cabinet meeting.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that he would continue to advance the "Jewish state bill" while maintaining the rights of all Israel's citizens.
The vote has caused a crisis within Netanyahu's coalition, with Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni vowing not to vote in favor of the bill despite the cabinet's approval of the measure on Sunday.
Earlier on Monday, a Knesset vote on the bill, which had been scheduled for Wednesday, was delayed until next week.
Speaking at a Likud faction meeting, the prime minister said that it was important to advance the bill, which aims to cement the Jewish nature of the state in law, even if he does not have the agreement of everyone in his coalition.
He added, however, that he would enable there to be dialogue in order to reach a compromise on the bill.
Livni told The Jerusalem Post
that even though the vote is postponed, no compromise has been reached and the fight goes on.
Yair lapid said in a closed-door meeting of his faction that the bill must be changed to obtain his support.
The three proposed versions of Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People – which were authorized by the coalition with 15 in favor and six opposed – declare Israel to be the site of self-determination exclusively for the Jewish people. Netanyahu’s version avoids some of the more controversial sections of the two similar private member bills, such as the status of Arabic or settlement construction.
“Jewish state bill” drafts by coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) and by MKs Yariv Levin (Likud), Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) and Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu) had been scheduled to go to a preliminary vote in the Knesset Wednesday, until the agreement was reached to delay the vote. Then, the bills will go to a Knesset committee, where they will be combined in accordance with Netanyahu’s draft.
All three versions of the bill reinforce “Hatikva” as the national anthem, the state symbols, use of the Hebrew calendar and the Law of Return, and call to grant freedom of access to holy places and protect them.