Peter Beaumont “Israeli president opposes proposed law to give ‘national rights’ to Jews only” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/26/israeli-president-opposes-proposed-law-of-jewish-rights
In an emotional critique of the proposed new legislation, which would become part of Israel’s basic laws , Rivlin said those who had drawn up Israel’s declaration of independence “in their great wisdom, insist that the Arab public in Israel not feel like the Jews felt in the diaspora”.
Speaking at a conference in the southern city of Eilat, Rivlin, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, asked: “What is the point of this bill?”
“Does this bill not in fact play into the hands of those who seek to slander us? Into the very hands of those who wish to show that even among us, there are those who see contradiction between our being a free people in our land, and the freedoms of the non-Jewish communities in our midst?
“The declaration of independence, in its depth and greatness, bound together two components of the state as Jewish and democratic, democratic and Jewish.”
On Wednesday, former defence and foreign minister Moshe Arens condemned the new legislation in a comment piece for Haaretz.
“We don’t need legislation to make Israel a Jewish state, and you cannot make it a Jewish state by legislation,” he writes.
“It is a Jewish state because the majority of the population is Jewish, because the dominant language spoken is Hebrew, because most of the books published here are Hebrew books, and most of the songs sung here are Hebrew songs … But most important, because of the Law of Return which enables any Jew, anywhere in the world, seeking refuge or desiring to live in Israel, to come here and become a citizen of the country.
“But not only is the proposed law unnecessary, it is harmful. A quarter of Israel’s population is not Jewish, and probably the most important item on the nation’s agenda should be their integration into the fabric of Israeli society and their participation in the Israeli economy. Giving them the feeling of being at home, of being equal citizens.”
A US state department spokesman said on Monday that it expected Israel to “continue [its] commitment to democratic principles”.
“The United States position, which is unchanged, has been clear for years – and the president and the secretary [of state] have also reiterated it – is that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state in which all citizens should enjoy equal rights.”