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Netanyahu insists that Israel is the nation-state of Jews only

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeated his belief that, while Israel "gives full equal rights to all its citizens [sic], it is the nation-state of one people – the Jewish people – and no other." He told his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday that he intends to push through legislation of a basic law to enshrine such status, reported Haaretz.

"Israel is a Jewish and democratic state," Netanyahu said. "Our Basic Laws give full expression to the democratic aspect of the state. We do this by giving full equal rights to each and every citizen. The Basic Laws do this by means of two main laws – the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, and the Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation. However, Israel's status as the nation-state of the Jewish people is not given sufficient expression in our Basic Laws, and this is what the proposed Basic Law is meant to do."

He noted that the proposed law will define the national rights of the Jewish people to the state of Israel without infringing on the individual rights of any Israeli citizen. "It will fortify the standing of the Law of Return as a Basic Law, it will anchor in the Basic Laws the standing of the national symbols – the flag, the national anthem, the language and other components of our national being. These components are under relentless and increasing attack from abroad, and even at home."

He noted that there are people who do not want Israel to be defined as "a nation-state of the Jewish people"; they want to see a Palestinian state established "alongside us" and Israel turning into a "bi-national, Arab-Jewish state within its narrow borders."

To this, Netanyahu responded with a "simple" reply: "You can't hold the national stick by both ends. You can't say that you want to separate from the Palestinians in order to avoid a bi-national state, an argument that has a certain logic to it, and meanwhile sanctify a bi-national, Jewish-Arab state in Israel's permanent borders."

This argument, commented MEMO's senior editor, would be stronger if Israel had ever declared what its borders are. "To this day, Israel is the only member state of the United Nations which has no recognised borders," said Ibrahim Hewitt. "That is the nature of Zionism, which sees Israel pushing ever more outwards to take more and more Palestinian land before a 'final agreement' on territory is reached." It hopes to establish so-called "facts on the ground" so that Greater Israel becomes a reality, he added.

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