The erosion of respect for human dignity in Israel has prompted the Israel Democracy Institute to draft a preliminary Declaration of Human Dignity, which it hopes to see passed into law later this year.

Toward this end, President Shimon Peres, together with IDI president Arik Carmon, on Sunday launched a website called Machlitim (Deciding), which will be open to all citizens of Israel, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or any other group factor, who are interested in debating the issue.

Based on what evolves as part of the debate, a new draft of the declaration will be published each week until July 1. A final draft will then be formulated and presented to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein at a festive ceremony some time close to Rosh Hashana.

The initiative for the declaration began a year ago when Carmon and IDI’s Prof. Tamar Hermann met with Peres and voiced concerns over emerging hostilities between different sectors of society. Last July, 20 people participated in a two-day conference on the subject.

In January, some 200 people gathered to compose a preliminary draft.

Concurrent with the web-based debate, there will be a third conference of 2,000 people representing the broadest possible cross-section of society.

The basic concept, according to the existing draft, is that the “State of Israel, its institutions and its citizens will treat all citizens equally and without discrimination, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, sex, or affiliation with any other group.”

It also addresses the rights of non-Israelis.

“The dignity of non-citizens (including permanent residents and asylum seekers) must be respected as well. Respect for human dignity is incumbent upon all Israeli institutions, including the security services,” the draft says.

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