The Druze community remains critical of the new Nationality Law, and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) on Thursday admitted in an interview with Army Radio that the legislation was made hastily. “There was pressure, we made a mistake and we have to correct it – the last thing we want is to harm the Druze community,” Kahlon said.
The Finance Minister stressed that the High Court of Justice petition against the new law by a Druze member of his party, MK Akram Hasson, was submitted with his consent.
Kahlon also admitted that there were mistakes in the legislation of the new surrogacy law, which bars same-sex male couples from using the services of a surrogate mother, while permitting surrogacy to same-sex female couples. “The surrogacy also suffered the same problem (haste to legislate, DI) – and we will amend the legislation,” Kahlon said, adding, “These are lifelong laws that will shape the image of the State of Israel.”
Minister of Education Naftali Bennett has been criticized in recent days regarding the Nationality Law, especially the timing of the legislation. On Wednesday, Channel 2 News reported that Bennett, like Kahlon, was also considering amending the law. The Education Minister has already declared that “the Israeli government bears a responsibility to find a way to heal the rift” with the Druze community.
Bennett has also been criticized for discovering the loyal Druze community’s protest against the law only now, when for weeks, while the Nationality Law was being debated in committee, he was ignoring the Druze’ vociferous protests, including those from former MK Shakib Shanan, who served in the IDF and is bereaved father: his son, border policeman Kamil Shinan, was murdered in a terror attack on the Temple Mount in July 2017.
Minister Bennett explained that he is now examining two possibilities for rectifying the problematic areas of the Nationality Law: enact a new, separate law, which would protect the special status of Druze in Israeli society; or amend the Nationality Law to include non-Jewish Israelis “whose fate is tied with the Jewish people,” meaning members of minority groups that serve in the IDF.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also become aware of the problems with the new law and has invited Druze leaders to a meeting with him next week to discuss remedies.
But Bennett continued to defend the validity of the Nationality Law, despite the above disturbing detail. “My leftist friends, the Nationality Law became crucial because the High Court of Justice, in a series of rulings, gradually emptied the Jewish aspect of the state,” he said, citing the cases of Adel Kaadan v. Israel Lands Administration, which forced Zionist land redemption groups to sell to non-Jews; the family unification ruling that allowed a flow of hostile Arabs into Israel; and the infiltrators ruling which barred the Interior Ministry from deporting illegal migrants.
These rulings, and many more, Bennett argued, have strengthened the “democratic” definition of the State of Israel while diminishing its definition as “Jewish.’
“There is a specific flaw in the law concerning our Druze brothers which must be rectified, but the law itself is essential and will remain in place,” Bennett vowed.