Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset on Wednesday that the proposed “national law”, or Jewish nation-state bill, would close the door to the Palestinian right of return, Arabs48 news website reported.
He criticised Israel’s “imbalance” between Jewish identity and democracy, saying: “Over the years, a distinct imbalance has been created between the Jewish element and the democratic one. There is an imbalance between individual rights and national rights in Israel.”
The version of the bill that the Israeli cabinet passed on Sunday ostensibly recognises equal rights, but says only Jews have national rights and the country as a whole is a Jewish state.
“I oppose a binational state,” Netanyahu said. “I want a state of one nation: the Jewish nation-state, which also includes non-Jews with equal rights.”
“I understand why Hamas opposes the nation-state law, but some of my good friends [also] oppose this nation-state law,” he complained.
Netanyahu also questioned why many who support the establishment of a Palestinian state object to explicitly defining Israel as a Jewish state.
“Those who speak domestically about two states for two peoples and oppose the nation-state law are making a contradictory statement: ‘The Palestinians deserve a nation-state of their own, and this state [Israel] will be binational’,” Netanyahu said.
He insisted on proposing his own version of the bill in order to guarantee the future of the Jewish nation. This bill, he said, undermines attempts to change the national anthem, swamp Israel with Palestinian refugees or seek autonomy in the Galilee and Negev.
According to Haaretz, Likud sources said that the Yesh Atid Party would face difficulties in supporting the bill, but added that it was still possible to reach consensus agreement.