Cabinet okays controversial ‘Jewish state’ bill

by Spencer Ho and Staff
November 23, 2014

The cabinet approved a controversial proposal Sunday to define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people in a constitutional Basic Law. The cabinet voted 14-6 to allow the government to draft a basic law that would formally define Israel as the Jewish national home.

The cabinet decision stipulated 14 “principles” that would guide the drafting of the new law. The final bill, which will be formally proposed in the Knesset by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, seeks to “define the identity of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and to anchor the values of the state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in the spirit of the principles of the Declaration of the Independence,” according to the cabinet decision.

The vote followed a stormy debate between ministers that more than once turned into a shouting match between Netanyahu and other ministers. Voting against the proposal were the five cabinet ministers from the centrist Yesh Atid party — Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Education Minister Shai Piron, Science Minister Yaakov Peri, Health Minister Yael German, and Welfare Minister Meir Cohen — as well as Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua). The votes in favor included all Likud, Yisrael Beytenu and Jewish Home ministers, except for Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat (Likud), who was not present.

The new Basic Law would enshrine many of the defining characteristics of the Jewish state in a constitutional framework, asserting that “the right to express national self-determination within the State of Israel is [reserved] only to the Jewish people.”……“They rush to recognize a state of the Palestinian people, but they strongly oppose a state of the Jewish people,” he said, referring to countries that have voted to recognize the state of Palestine.


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