Above: Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu
Jewish State Bill Passes Cabinet, Despite Language That Is Likely Illegal
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The cabinet of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, approved the controversial Jewish State bill today, Ha'aretz reported.
The bill is reportedly a combination of two different bills, the proposed by Members of Knesset Ayelet Shaked of the right-wing Zionist Orthodox HaBayit HaYehudi Party and the Likud Party’s Yariv Levin, the second by hared-line Likud MK Zeev Elkin.
Fourteen cabinet ministers supported the bill. Six cabinet ministers, five from the centrist Yesh Atid Party and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni of the centrist Hatnuah Party, opposed the bill.
Israel’s attorney general also opposed the bill, saying it threatened the democratic nature of the state and may be illegal.
"Yesh Atid and I are for a nation-state bill, just not this nation-state bill. The bill submitted today to the government puts a Jewish state before democracy. Ben-Gurion would not approve this bill. Begin and Jabotinsky would not approve it. It is an anti-democratic bill. Neither I nor Yesh Atid will vote on Wednesday for the nation-state bill as it was submitted,” Yesh Atid’s chairman, Finance Minister Yair Lapid said.
Livni reportedly said that both she and Lapid made it clear they will not support the bills, even though the cabinet vote today obligates them to.
If they refuse to vote for the bill in Knesset later this week, Netanyahu is thought likely to dismiss them from his cabinet and may even throw their parties out of his coalition.
"I will lend a hand to this bill. [But] I will not vote for it. I am thinking of voting against. I certainly won't let the proposal pass as long as it depends on me. I won't allow the bill to pass while I am in the bathroom [and my no vote could stop it],” Livni told Channel 2 News today.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett reportedly lauded the bill, saying it would rescue south Tel Aviv from "infiltrators" – African asylum seekers who are refugees under international law but who are not given refugee status by Israel, despite Israel’s international agreements that if followed would mandate it to do so. "The next time a law meant to stop infiltrators is brought to the High Court of Justice, the court will also have to consider that Israel is the 'nation-state of the Jewish people' and not just 'human dignity and freedom.' This is an important message for the residents of south Tel Aviv and for the entire country,” the right-wing Zionist Orthodox Bennett continued.
Yariv Levin, who is the coalition government’s Knesset chairman and who proposed one of the two bills passed today in combination for, lauded the bill’s success in the cabinet.
"Today we took a step of historic significance to return Israel to its Zionist roots, after years of ongoing damage done by the justice system to the principles on which the state was founded,” Levin said.
Right wing politicians like Levin have long fumed against the High Court of Justice. They have also joined with Orthodox and haredi political parties to repeatedly block Israel from adopting a formal constitution, which they claim will undermine the Torah.
Later this week Netanyahu reportedly plans to present his own slightly more moderate version of the bill that will incorporate much of this bill’s language. As it now reads, Netanyahu’s version says nothing about guaranteeing equality for Israel’s non-Jewish minorities.
Livni may vote for that version of the bill anyway.
Because her Justice Ministry says that while Netanyahu’s language does not expressly use the word equality or any similar term, the language contains the “spirit” of equality – something that likely will do nothing to actually help those minorities as they suffer discrimination from Netanyahu’s voters.