Druze leaders, Netanyahu discuss agreement to end Nation-State row

If accepted, the agreement could resolve the wide-scale protests of Druze and Jewish Israelis against the Nation-State Law.

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August 1, 2018 18:57
2 minute read.
Druze leaders, Netanyahu discuss agreement to end Nation-State row

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Druze leaders . (photo credit: PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE)

The leaders of the Druze community in Israel were undecided late Wednesday night about whether to accept a proposal to improve their quality of life in exchange for dropping demands to change the Jewish Nation-State Law and withdraw a lawsuit against the law filed with the Supreme Court.

While some Druze leaders called the proposal historic, others said they would continue to protest against the new law and would not cancel a mass demonstration set for Tel Aviv on Saturday night.

The proposal was reached by a committee led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Yoav Horowitz, which included Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Muwafak Tarif, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud), MK Hamad Amer (Yisrael Beytenu) and former MK Shakib Shanan.

It would enshrine into law the special status of Israel’s Druze community, as well as that of the country’s Circassians in a Basic Law.
Knesset passes controversial Jewish nation-state bill into law, July 19, 2018 (Reuters)

The proposal goes on to say that any member of any community or faith who serves in Israel’s armed forces will be able to enjoy state benefits and have their service recognized.

The Druze community will also be given state support for the maintenance of community institutions and housing projects.

The draft will be submitted to the Knesset during the upcoming winter session.

Tarif stated, “The offer is a good one... this is a window of opportunity” to anchor the rights of the Druze community in Israel in to law.

Kara said the plan was “good and historic, will improve the status of the Druze, and serve the community well.” He said that all those who called on him to quit in protest over the Jewish Nation-State Law could no longer deny that the Druze sector has been advanced more by the current government than all of its predecessors.

Amar said the agreement was unprecedented and that it corrects historic wrongs. He said the protests against the law had proven successful.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon also lauded the compromise reached with the Druze community, saying, “I am happy that the way was found, after intensive work, to address the problem created by the enactment of the Nationality Law, which is important in itself.”

But Zionist Union MK Saleh Sa’ad said, “It is unfortunate that my colleagues surrendered to pressure,” adding that he would continue with the lawsuit and the protests.

Rafik Halabi, the mayor of the Druze village Daliat al-Carmel, mocked the agreement, saying the fact that it was already leaked to media before the meeting proved it was not serious.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said Netanyahu should have apologized and admitted he made a mistake in passing a law without considering its ramifications.

Arab MKs also rejected the compromise, vowing to go to international bodies to get the law and Israel condemned.

Channel 10 reported Wednesday night that US President Donald Trump’s administration sought clarification on the bill. The administration denied that report and said the law was not discussed in a meeting between Horowitz and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.


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