Netanyahu tells Druze Nation-State Law won't change

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon declared that the government "erred in the Nation-State Law and mistakes must be corrected."

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July 26, 2018 16:22
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others discussing the needs of the Druze community

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Communication Minister Ayoub Kara, Tourism Minister Levin, and Druze MKs Hamad Amar and Akram Hasson discussing the needs of the Druze community. (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin rejected Druze demands to change the Jewish Nation-State Law that passed last week in a meeting Thursday at his Jerusalem office with Druze politicians in his governing coalition.
 
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu), Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu), and Ministerial Liason to the Knesset Yariv Levin (Likud) participated in the meeting, as did three Druze politicians: Communications Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud), MK Hamed Amar (Yisrael Beytenu), and MK Akram Hasson (Kulanu).

Netanyahu and Levin tried to persuade them that there is nothing in the law which hurts their sector, and expressed willingness to pass new laws and initiate new programs to help the Druze when the Knesset returns from its extended summer recess October 14.
But the Druze politicians, whose 140,000 constituents live in the Galilee and the Golan Heights, said they would not stop their public campaign against the law until it is amended. They said they do not want benefits instead, and are unwilling to drop their petition to the High Court of Justice against the law which they filed Sunday.

“We won’t be bought with benefits,” Amar said. “What we want is the law to guarantee equality for minorities who are willing to fight for the state.”

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that the meeting went well, and that Netanyahu would meet with the head of the Druze community in Israel, Sheikh Muwaffak Tarif, on Friday.

“When these consultations end, a plan will be drafted that will express the State of Israel’s deep commitment to the Druze community,” the statement said.

Incoming opposition leader Tzipi Livni also responded to the Druze anger with the law and met separately with Tarif Thursday.

“The alliance between us is not an oath of blood,” Livni said, referring to the fact that Druze Israelis serve in the IDF like Jewish citizens of the state, “It must be an oath of equality.”

“I brought the Declaration of Independence with me. It is the basis upon which the State of Israel was established,” she said. “The Druze were partners even before the establishment of the State of Israel, and there is no need to invent it.”

Tarif thanked Livni saying, “You have a lot of experience, and I wish you success in the new job. I am very pleased with the unity of the people, and that is what I strive for. I accept people from all over the country and across the political spectrum, and want to reinforce the idea that all we want is equality. The Declaration of Independence is the answer for everyone.”

Kahlon backed up the Druze politicians, saying that the law was passed haphazardly and mistakes were made in its drafting. He said he supports the court petition against the law.

Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg mocked the heads of coalition parties for “finally realizing they passed a law that humiliates and harms people, because they wanted to please their political base.” A special summer session will be initiated by the opposition to discuss what Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay slammed as “the legislative blunder of the Nation-State Law”

Incoming Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog called Tarif and invited him address the leadership of the Diaspora at the next meeting of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors in Jerusalem in October. Tarif accepted.

Yvette J. Deane contributed to this report.


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