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Activists wave Declaration of Independence in Nation-State debate

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Zionist Union activists waved copies of Israel’s Declaration of Independence in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, during a special debate on the Nation-State law addressed by Opposition Leader, MK Tzipi Livni.
by TIMES OF ISRAEL | Aug 10, 2018

Livni railed against the right-wing government, called for early elections, and said the opposition would pass the Declaration of Independence as a basic law in lieu of the Nation-State law passed by the right-wing coalition on 19 July.

Castigating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for failing to include a commitment to equality for all Israeli citizens in the law, Livni stormed, “What the hell has Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got against the Declaration of Independence?”, which includes a specific commitment to full equality.

“We’re the side that believes in a covenant of equals,” she said. “Every citizen of Israel has equal rights. We commit to bringing the principles of the Declaration of Independence back into our lives. That’s our commitment, and we will fight for it until we win the elections. Your time is over,” she said to leaders of the right-wing coalition – who were not present in the plenum.

As she spoke, a group of activists from the Zionist Union faction raised copies of Israel’s Declaration of Independence in the visitors’ gallery. They were quickly rushed out of the hall by Knesset ushers and security, as the waving of objects in the plenum is expressly forbidden by Parliamentary bylaws.

Livni accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of attempting to “dissolve the bonds between us [Jews and minorities] with his acid”.

The special recess session was convened in spite of MKs’ failing to obtain the 40 signatures required to force Netanyahu to attend.

The Nation-State law passed by the Knesset as one of the country’s basic laws enshrines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people”, but critics say it undermines Israel’s commitment to equality for all its citizens.

Members of Israel’s Druze community, who serve in the Israeli army, have expressed particular outrage at the law’s provisions, saying it renders them second-class citizens.

An estimated 50 000-plus people, waving Israeli and Druze flags and calling for equality, gathered at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday night to demonstrate against the law.

The Netanyahu government says the new law merely reiterates the country’s national identity, while Israel’s democratic character and provisions for equality are anchored in existing legislation, including the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. It has resisted calls to amend or scrap the law, and instead has committed to passing new legislation meant to address the concerns of the Druze.


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