Israel ministers seek changes to ‘nation state’ law after Druze outcry

Israel ministers seek changes to 'nation state' law after Druze outcry

Two influential Israeli ministers have called for changes to a deeply controversial law declaring Israel the nation state of the Jewish people, after a backlash and a court challenge from the Druze minority.
 
Opponents have called the law “racist” as it makes no mention of equality and Israel’s democratic character, implying that the country’s Jewish nature comes first.
 Members of Israel’s 130,000-strong Druze community, many of whom serve in the police and military, have been among those strongly denouncing the nation-state law.
 Community leaders have filed a court challenge to the law, which was passed by a vote of 62-55 and two abstentions in the 120-member parliament after months of political argument.
 The legislation becomes part of Israel’s so-called Basic Law, a de facto constitution.
 Critics and members of the state’s Palestinian minority – which constitutes 20 percent of Israel – have likened the legislation to apartheid.
 Following the vote, Knesset members belonging to the Joint List, which represents Palestinian citizens of Israel, shouted and tore up papers.
 On Thursday, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon called for changes in response to the concerns of the Druze, saying the law had been “passed in haste”.
 “The last thing that we want is to harm the Druze community,” Kahlon, whose Kulanu party is the second largest in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, told Army Radio.
 Kahlon’s comments followed similar ones on Wednesday by Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the religious nationalist Jewish Home party.
 Bennett, who was a prominent advocate for the law, said he had now realised damage was done, adding that the Druze were “our brothers who stand shoulder to shoulder with us on the battlefield”.

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