Israeli cabinet approves 'Jewish state' law


The Israeli cabinet is yet to approve the final wording of the controversial bill, expected to further heighten tension with Palestinians

Palestinians sit outside al-Aqsa, site of recent clashes, as settlers walk past (MEE / Mahfouz Abu Turk)
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Last update: 
Friday 13 February 2015 5:15 UTC

After a hotly-contested meeting of the Israeli cabinet, a controversial bill that will legally recognise Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people has been approved, in a move likely to heighten tension between Israelis and Palestinians.

14 of the delegates voted up the proposal, which was opposed by six ministers including Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni, who publicly came to blows with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the bill.

The final text of the bill has not yet been finalised – Sunday’s meeting saw ministers vote on a more extreme version which will later be “softened” in a version to be submitted by Netanyahu, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.

The cabinet meeting room was closed to the press, but journalists sitting in the building reported hearing Israeli politicians shouting at each other from inside.

During the meeting, Netanyahu is reported to have called Livni “weak” over her stance on the issue, with Livni accusing the premier of orchestrating “nonsense just to get back” at her over political differences.

Livni had earlier submitted a version of the same bill – her drafting specifically contained a guarantee that the Jewish state of Israel should maintain “equality for all its citizens.”

Netanyahu’s version, to be voted on in the coming weeks, will not specifically include the word “equality” – however, according to sources who spoke to Haaretz, the Justice Ministry accepts that his wording contains “the spirit of equality.”

Jeremy Man Saltan, a self-described "Knesset [Parliament] insider" who manages social media for right-wing economy minister Naftali Bennett, hoped controversy over the vote could presage the exit of liberal coalition partner Tzipi Livni.