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Israel PM defends plans for law on Jewish state
Published Sunday 04/05/2014 (updated) 07/05/2014 19:30
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) chairs the weekly cabinet
meeting at his office in Jerusalem, on May 4, 2014 (AFP/Oliver Weiken)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday moved to defend his plans to enshrine Israel's status as the national homeland for the Jewish people in law.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said the aim was to "anchor" in law Israel's status and ensure it would remain a Jewish state following any peace deal with the Palestinians.

"There are those who do not want Israel to be defined as the national homeland for the Jewish people," he said in remarks broadcast on public radio.

"They want a Palestinian national homeland to be established here next to us, and that Israel be gradually turned into a bi-national Jewish-Arab state within our reduced borders," he told ministers in a reference to Israel's Arab minority who number just over 20 percent of the population.

Netanyahu and others in the rightwing camp have long expressed fears that following the establishment of a Palestinian state, Israel's Arab citizens would seek to press their own claims for territory in the northern Galilee and southern Negev regions.

"You cannot say we want to break away from the Palestinians to prevent a bi-national state -- something which has a certain logic -- and at the same time give your blessing to a bi-national, Jewish-Arab state within Israel's permanent borders," he said.

"Israel gives full equal rights to all of its citizens but it is the national homeland of just one people - the Jewish people."

Throughout the most recent round of peace talks, which ended in crisis on Tuesday with the sides bitterly at odds, Netanyahu demanded such recognition from the Palestinians, insisting it was a core issue of the conflict.

The Palestinians have refused.

For them, accepting Israel as a Jewish state would mean accepting the Nakba, or "catastrophe", that befell them when 760,000 of their people fled or were forced out of their homes in the war that accompanied Israel's establishment in 1948.

Israel's Arab minority are the descendants of the 160,000 Palestinians who remained on their land after 1948.

According to figures published ahead of independence day, which is marked from sundown Monday, Israel's population stands at 8.2 million, the Central Bureau of Statistics said.

Of that figure, 75 percent, or 6,135,000 people, are Jewish, while Arab Israelis account for 20.7 percent, or 1,694,000 people.
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1 ) JoeFattal / USA
05/05/2014 04:37
An Israelite is a native of the ancient northern Kingdom of Israel. A descendent of Jacob, a Jew. Mr. Netanyahu by defending his case for calling Israel a Jewish State reflects either his doubt about what is a Jew, or which is probably the reason why, is to buy more time, build more settlements and destroy more Palestinian homes while he is debating a stupid question about what is Jew. I am not question his political intellectuality, he knows his politics, but his religious beliefs.

2 ) ian / australia (1)
06/05/2014 15:15
What in Yahweh's name is he up to now? How can a state be the "national homeland" of 75% of its citizens, along religious, masquerading as racial, lines and still be democratic? What exactly is the status of the remaining 25% if their country is not their "national home"? It's incoherent. In fairness, the PM has a lot of balls in the air. He has to placate lunatics in the government like Naftali Bennett and Moshe Feiglin yet not piss off Europe or Washington (whence the shekels flow).

3 ) ian / australia (2)
06/05/2014 15:16
(contd.) And he's got uppity Palestinians refusing to co-operate and joining UN conventions and making his life a misery by threatening to unify AND recognise Israel AND renounce violent resistance. It's not easy being Bibi.

4 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
06/05/2014 20:17
So, Ian, how can Australia be the national homeland of 22 million colonist occupiers? How much time does it take before invading settlers like you are kosher, Ian? 100 years? 200 years? Seriously, Ian, how long do we have to wait before the "Australian rules" take over and the colony becomes a country and you simply give the aborigines a passport and wipe your hands of guilt for the war crimes you committed? How long, Ian? We'll wait. I like Australian logic. Kinda like Yankee colonial logic.

5 ) Colin Wright / USA
09/05/2014 18:27
"There are those who do not want Israel to be defined as the national homeland for the Jewish people," Kind of amusing. This was agreed to by the great powers in 1922 or so. At the time, Chaim Weizmann assured all that a 'national homeland' would never be taken to mean an actual independent state. The Zionists disavowed any such aspiration. They just wanted to be kinda like Mormons in the US or something. No more ambitious goals were in the offing.

6 ) Colin Wright / USA
09/05/2014 18:29
re Brian Cohen #4: 'So, Ian, how can Australia be the national homeland of 22 million colonist occupiers? ' Brain goes back to barking his good ol' bark. Never mind that it's been repeatedly discredited repeatedly by many right here. Still, better than trying something new and humiliating yourself again, right, Brain?

7 ) ian / australia (2)
10/05/2014 01:21
(contd.) necessarily conferring amorphous second class citizen status on everyone not in it. And it's not a matter of time expunging crimes as you bizarrely suggest, but rather obeying the law as it stands NOW. (Sheesh!)

8 ) ian / australia (1)
10/05/2014 14:08
#4 Australia is the home of ALL its citizens equally, Brian, whether our ancestors arrived as convicts in the 18th century, fled the potato famine in the 19th, as post-war refugees from Europe or economic migrants from Asia in the 20th or political refugees fleeing Africa or Afghanistan granted asylum in the 21st OR were the original Stone Age inhabitants. It's not the "national home" of ONE group, and certainly not one RELIGIOUS group pretending to be a RACIAL group, a faked-up PEOPLE,

9 ) ian / australia (1)
10/05/2014 14:10
(contd.) necessarily conferring amorphous second class citizen status on everyone not in it. And it's not a matter of time expunging crimes as you bizarrely suggest, but rather obeying the law as it stands NOW. (Sheesh!)
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