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Netanyahu promises to ease house demolitions in Druze communities post-Nation State Law

July 28, 2018 at 12:58 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu , 10 July 2018 [Abdülhamid Hoşbaş/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apparently promised to ease the demolition of “illegal” homes in Druze communities in the wake of the Nation State Law which many see as discriminatory. His government does not demolish or stop the construction of any building in Jewish towns and cities, and applies building regulations only in Arab towns, including those populated by Druze.

The new law has prompted leaders of the Druze Arab community, specifically those who advocate military service in the Israel Defence Forces, to protest at what they believe is a betrayal of the “blood pact” that they have with Israel. This has prompted sympathy from Israeli leaders and senior ministers, not only because of the service of young Arabs from the Druze community in the IDF, but also because the leaders of these Zionist parties rely on the Druze for votes at election time.

The Druze feel that the Nation State Law excludes their children from the public domain in Israel apart from military service and voting. Netanyahu, who pushed hard for the racist law, held talks on Friday to see how to compensate Israel’s “Druze citizens” as well as a meeting with the leadership of the sect.

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The head of the Jewish Home Party and Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett, one of the initiators of the new law, also declared that it affects the feelings of the Druze. “These are our blood brothers who stood shoulder to shoulder with us on the battlefield and made a life pact with us,” he wrote on Facebook. “The Israeli government has to find a way to prevent the rift.”

According to the head of the Kulanu Party and Finance Minister, Moshe Kahlon, who also supported the law, its enactment “was hasty and should be corrected.”

The spiritual leader of the Druze, Shaikh Mowafaq Tarif, called for the community to have “special status in Israel in a constitutional manner and for the granting of equal rights and citizenship to all citizens, as stipulated in the Declaration of Independence,” reported Haaretz.

However, Netanyahu rejected the possibility of cancelling or amending the law. Instead, he has formed a committee, headed by his chief of staff, Yuav Horovitz, to find a “quick and acceptable solution, which expresses the great appreciation of the State of Israel for the special life partnership with the Druze community.” The community leaders, it was noted, refuse to be silenced with budgets.