‘PM didn’t approve naming Gavison to draft constitutional provision'

Sources deny PM supported Livni's appointment of Ruth Gavison to draft a constitutional provision defining Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.”

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August 22, 2013 00:27
1 minute read.
Ruth Gavison

Ruth Gavison 521. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

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.”

The sources said that while Netanyahu was informed of the appointment in advance, he neither approved nor supported it.

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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.”

Livni said 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.

The 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.

Both 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.


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