Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday he would seek a new law declaring the so-called ‘Israel” a Jewish state, striking back against a Palestinian refusal to recognize that status in now-collapsed peace talks.
“I will promote a Basic Law that will define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said in a speech in Tel Aviv that alluded to Palestinian rejection of his demand to recognize the Zionist entity as such in the U.S.-backed negotiations.
Palestinians fear this label would lead to discrimination against the entity’s sizeable Arab minority, which makes up a fifth of its population, and negate any right of return of Palestinian refugees from wars since 1948 to what is named now ‘Israel’.
Netanyahu, speaking in the hall where the Zionist so-called ‘Declaration of Independence’ (Al Nakba) was signed in 1948, said those seeking the creation of a Palestinian state, while refusing to recognize the Zionist entity as a Jewish nation, were challenging its right to exist.
Mohammad Barakeh, an Arab lawmaker from the left-wing Hadash party, said legislation declaring a Jewish state would be racist in nature. “The truth is, I was surprised by his intention to bring this as a Basic Law,” Barakeh told Reuters by telephone.
“I have been following Netanyahu’s actions in the peace talks. I know he doesn’t want peace and wants to put a spanner in the works. But he’s gone too far with this.”
In lieu of a formal constitution, a series of Basic Laws adopted by parliament since the foundation of the Zionist entity defines governmental, legislative and judicial powers, protects civil rights and codifies Jerusalem’s internationally disputed status as the country’s capital.
A new Basic Law declaring the Zionist entity a Jewish state would largely be symbolic, a Zionist official said. “It is declaration to show that this is part of our national ethos.”