Israel’s Economy Minister and leader of the Jewish Home party Naftali Bennett rejected the US State Department’s criticism regarding the nation-state law which states that country is for Jews, making Arabs second class citizens.
He told Israeli Army Radio today: “I say to the Americans that the affairs of the State of Israel – we will manage [ourselves]. In the end this is an internal matter and I do not think anyone has a right to interfere in it.”
In a press conference yesterday, US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Washington understood that the proposal was only at the “beginning of a process, and so I don’t want to speculate on the outcome,” but added that the US “would expect any final legislation to continue Israel’s commitment to democratic principles.”
The Israeli government decided to postpone the decision on this law to next week. A decision had been expected tomorrow.
Israeli radio said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned members of his party and the coalition not to vote against the draft bill or they risk being dismissed.
Finance Minister and chairman of the Yesh Atid Party, Yair Lapid, and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni both oppose the draft law.
“Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid know very well, that [voting ‘yes’ for the bill is] part of the coalition agreement,” Bennett said Tuesday. “The coalition agreement says that we should accept the Jewish State law.”
Mohammed Dahlan, a lawyer and expert in Israeli law, said the draft national law states explicitly for the first time that Israel is the state of the Jewish people, to make the status of Arabs void. He pointed out that it would negatively affect the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel.
According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, some 1.6 million Arabs in Israel, they make up more than 20 per cent of the roughly eight million people living in the country.