U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was cautious Tuesday and offered no direct comment on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to take the government to new elections by firing Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
In Brussels, he ducked questions from international journalists who asked how he thought the decision might affect relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“We hope that whatever government is formed, or whether there are elections, that those elections will produce the possibility of a government that can negotiate and move towards resolving the differences between Israelis and Palestinians, and obviously, the differences in the region,” Kerry said.
The first political poll of the “new season” shows that the next Israeli government is likely to be “more right wing and extreme,” observed PA Foreign Minister Riad Maliki. Speaking from the PA capital of Ramallah in the Samaria region, Maliki estimated that such a government might draw more international support for the Palestinian Authority’s effort to secure recognition as an independent sovereign country.
The current Israeli coalition broke down over Netanyahu’s decision to submit a bill to define Israel at the legislative level as the “Jewish State.” Although Israel is already defined as such in its declaration of independence, Netanyahu is insisting the definition must be reiterated at the constitutional level in order to send a message to the rest of the world, and in particular to Israel’s enemies.
In the version of the measure authored by Netanyahu (there have been several different versions of the bill, authored by others) Israel’s democratic character is preserved and the rights of all other citizens are maintained, contrary to reports circulated in some international media.
Hebrew is listed as the national language, with Arabic as an honorary but not mandatory second.