A new ministerial committee will try to prepare a draft basic law for declaring Israel a Jewish state on which coalition parties can agree.
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation decided that a panel led by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) will work on the bill.
The committee is to include the lawmakers who submitted the current draft – MKs Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu), Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) and Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu) – as well as MK Ruth Calderon (Yesh Atid) who proposed turning the Independence Scroll into a basic law.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu originally supported the Levin-Shaked- Ilatov version of the bill, which declared that “the State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish People, where they realize their aspiration for self-determination according to their cultural and historical legacy” and “the right to national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish People.” However, he has since shifted his support to the concept of coalition parties drafting an agreed-upon version.
The committee has four weeks to come up with a new bill. If it does not succeed, the Levin-Shaked-Ilatov version will be brought to a vote.
Meanwhile, Livni presented a drastically different vision of what the legislation could look like.
“As long as it’s up to me as justice minister and a partner in this government, there will not be a law in the State of Israel that harms our values as a Jewish and democratic state. No law will prefer the Jewish state over the democratic one, or vice-versa,” she wrote on Facebook.
“The Jewish nation-state is a country in which its citizens have equal rights and there will not be a law that harms the value of equality and the rights of the minority in Israel,” Livni added. “I will fight for that. I will not allow an extreme-nationalist law... I believe that the State of Israel is strong, with inner strength that does not need defensive nationalist legislation.”
Shaked, however, said that she believes that Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty already established Israel’s democratic character and that a new basic law is needed with reference to its Jewishness.
“This is a trivial move that should have taken place long ago,” she said. “The committee will work together for a limited time period and I hope we come up with a draft that reflects the consensus in Israeli society about the bill’s meaning.”
Levin said: “Israel is a Jewish state with a democratic system of government and not a state of all its citizens...
in which Jewish life takes place on the fringes.
This basic principle, on which the State of Israel was founded, has been eroded over time through High Court rulings, which is why we need to stop the post-Zionist process and anchor Israel’s character and values in a Basic Law.”
Levin expressed hope that the bill will pass into law during the Knesset’s current session, which ends on August 3.
“As the prime minister instructed, I plan to make an effort to reach a broad consensus about the bill’s final draft,” he said.