The large demonstration in Umm el-Fahm on Saturday against the government’s decision to outlaw the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement will not have any impact on the government’s decision, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at Sunday’s cabinet meeting.
Netanyahu said that while he has “lately heard voices rising from certain segments of the population” against the decision, “it will not change the decision by a millimeter. We are adhering to this decision, just as we are determined to pass that nationality law that will clearly delineate Israel as a Jewish democratic state, as the national home of the Jewish people.”
Like the decision to ban the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, this proposed law has also infuriated large segments of the Israeli Arab population.
Netanyahu said that coalition chairman Tzachi Hanegbi will begin discussions this week in an effort to move this legislation forward.
The premier began the cabinet meeting by pointing out that Sunday was November 29, the day when the UN voted for the Partition Plan in 1947, paving the way for Israel’s creation.
“On the next day, the Jewish community came under mounting, deadly attacks, and – of course – we continue to fight terrorism today, as then. This terrorism has accompanied us for nearly 100 years, and we have defeated it time after time – we will also defeat it this time.”
Netanyahu said that this terrorism is fueled by opposition to Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people within any borders, and that now an extremist Islamic element has been added to the mix. He said that this Islamic extremism is also attacking around the world: in Paris, London, Madrid and Mali – places where there are no “settlements” or “territories,” but where there is basic opposition to the existence of free, independent, Western democracies.
“We maintain the right to live in a Jewish and democratic state,” he said. “A Jewish state as the nation state of our people; a democratic state that respects all its citizens, regardless of race, religion or gender.”
In other cabinet developments, the government approved a NIS 100 million plan to help businesses in Jerusalem suffering as a result of the current wave of terrorism.
The plan includes NIS 70 million to strengthen small and medium sized business; NIS 20 million to encourage tourism to the capital; and NIS 11 million to increase the number of college- aged students studying in the capital and turn it into an academic hub. The plan also calls for easing tax debt payments to businesses in the city.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat – who in recent weeks has waged a campaign against Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon under the slogan: “Kahlon, don’t disengage from Jerusalem” – attended the meeting and reportedly apologized for the campaign.
He issues a statement saying that Jerusalem is “a national objective.”
“I am certain that together with the prime minister, the finance minister and the minister for Jerusalem Affairs [Ze’ev Elkin], and all the ministers, we can find the way to ensure that Jerusalem will not move backward, and that the growth trends will continue and will reach a level worthy of Israel’s capital.”
Barkat has had a tense relationship with Elkin since the he was given the Jerusalem ministerial portfolio soon after this year’s elections.