Sources in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office denied on Wednesday that
he supported Justice Minister Tzipi Livni's appointment of respected jurist Ruth
Gavison to draft a constitutional provision defining the exact dimensions of
what it means for Israel to be a “Jewish and democratic state.”
sources said that while Netanyahu was informed of the appointment in advance, he
neither approved nor supported it.
Livni, in her announcement of the
appointment on Monday night, said it was made “with the agreement of the prime
minister and the heads of the parties in the coalition.”
Gavison’s work on the issue was needed 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 country.
justice minister appointed Gavison after using her power as chairwoman of the
Ministerial Committee for Legislation to veto two bills meant to legally define
Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
The first, introduced by MK Ruth
Calderon (Yesh Atid), was based on the text of the Israeli Declaration of
Independence, while the second – from coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud
Beytenu) and MKs Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) and Robert Ilatov (Likud Beytenu)
– was more detailed, and included text based on the Balfour Declaration, and
mentioned the Land of Israel as the location of the Jewish state.
bills say that Israel is a democratic state.
Gavison’s efforts are
believed to be an alternative to the latter bill, which would create a Basic Law
that would affirm that Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, while
confirming it as a democracy where all its citizens – regardless of their
religion – have equal rights.