Ayelet Shaked at the 2017 JPost Annual Conference .
(photo credit: screenshot)
Jewish and democratic are equal values in Israel, and that will be reflected in the Jewish nation-state bill, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said in a Knesset debate Wednesday.
“I and, I know, the prime minister and everyone agree that [Israel] is Jewish and democratic and neither value needs to be superior to the other,” she said.
There are several iterations of the proposed Basic Law: The State of Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, but all declare Israel to be the nation-state of the Jewish people. Two versions by the opposition, which were voted down Wednesday, simply take the text of the Declaration of Independence and make it into a Basic Law, meaning a law with constitutional weight.
However, the coalition version of the bill, which is being debated in a special Knesset committee, includes many other articles, some controversial and some not, like the flag and the national symbol, Hebrew as Israel’s official language, connection to Diaspora communities, and using Jewish law as an inspiration for the courts.
Zionist parties in the opposition have focused their attention on an article of the bill that says that, in court rulings, Jewish should come before democratic.
“We are talking about the nation-state,” Zionist Union MK Revital Swid said to Shaked. “The State of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and has equality for all its citizens. A Jewish and democratic state.
Shaked said she spoke extensively with Likud MK Amir Ohana, chairman of the special committee working on the bill, along with ministers from other parties, and everyone agreed that the text would be changed before it goes to a final vote.
“Everyone agrees that Jewish and democratic are parallel values,” Shaked emphasized. “There is no intention to put one above the other. I explained that many times. They need to live together, parallel to one another, and I am sure MK Ohana and all the committee members will analyze it as necessary.”
“It will be parallel,” Ohana said later in the debate.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid called the coalition’s Jewish nation-state bill a “fraud.”
“Why are you turning the most important things into petty politics? You turned the nation-state bill into another jumping-off point for hatred and anger,” he said.
Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni said: “The word ‘equality’ bothers this coalition and those who want to turn us into an apartheid state. Our founding generation never imagined that, after 70 years, the government of Israel would refuse to adopt the Declaration of Independence and decide to tear it up.”
In recent weeks, coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) rejected any compromises on the Jewish nation-state bill that would include the word “equality.”
Earlier this week, Bitan said he would prevent the bill from passing at all if it is a “weak” version.