Jerusalem (AFP) – With the law defining Israel as the “Jewish nation-state”, denounced by minorities and the opposition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voluntarily accentuates divisions to set the tone for the next elections, say experts Sunday.
Saturday in Tel Aviv, tens of thousands of people protested against the law passed on July 19 that they consider discriminatory, but this protest could serve the political interests of the one who heads the most right-wing government in the history of ‘Israel.
The Druze minority, who speak Arabic and professes a faith derived from a very heterodox Islam, is at the origin of this protest movement, which has been joined by opposition leaders and former security chiefs. .
For the Druze and Arab minorities (Israeli Arabs make up 17.5% of the population), the law makes them second-class citizens.
But Mr Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud party and prime minister for a total of 12 years, once again defended the law he had worn on Sunday to consolidate the support of his base and undermine his right-wing rivals. in view of the legislative, according to analysts.
The Prime Minister, they stress, is familiar with this political tactic. In 2015, he had already played on fears by warning against Arab voters “going to the masses en masse”.
The current legislature ends at the end of 2019, but early elections could be held by the end of this year, according to media reports.
“Netanyahu already wants to try to dictate the tone for elections”, even as the election campaign was not launched, told AFP Anshel Pfeffer, journalist of the left-wing daily Haaretz and author of “Bibi: the era and the restless life of Benjamin Netanyahu “.
– A “terrible” law –
Mr Netanyahu governs today thanks to a narrow majority in the Parliament consisting of parties of right and extreme right.
According to polls, the majority of Israeli Jews support the law but wonder what it means for the future of democracy in the country.
Israeli Druze (130,000 people living mainly in northern Israel) who perform their compulsory military service and serve in the Israeli army and police, unlike Israeli Arabs, have succeeded in gaining popular support for their demands. .
The law is one of the basic laws that serve as the Constitution in Israel.
“The State of Israel is the national state of the Jewish people, Israel is a democratic Jewish state,” Netanyahu said, arguing that “individual rights” were already guaranteed by “many laws”.
But for Amir Fuchs, of the Israel Democracy Institute think tank, this is not quite true: the basic laws qualify the country as “Jewish and democratic” but there is no reference to a right to equality specifically, except in the 1948 “Declaration of Independence”.
It is now the judges who will interpret the new law, explains the one who participated in the discussions on the text as a guest expert. Many cases have already been filed against the law.
Although Amir Fuchs considers Israel to be “the nation state of the Jewish people,” he believes the law is dangerous for minorities because it does not mention equality between citizens. “It is a terrible law that changes the definition of Israel”.
– Netanyahu persists –
The law states that the establishment of “Jewish localities is in the national interest”, confers on Jews the “unique” right to self-determination in Israel and proclaims that Hebrew is the only official language while Arabic will have a “special” status that has not been defined.
Mr. Netanyahu again explained the benefits, according to him, of this law. It will prevent, he said, “for example the exploitation of the clause of family reunion, which allowed many, many Palestinians to be absorbed by the country”. “It will also allow us to block the future entry of immigrant workers.”
The Prime Minister organized several meetings with Druze representatives and proposed to them to vote a separate law on their status. He also announced the formation of a ministerial committee on the issue. But the Druze leaders maintain that the law must be amended or canceled.
The Knesset, the Israeli parliament, is due to hold an extraordinary session on August 8 on the law at the request of 52 opposition MPs (out of a total of 120), according to which the debates will focus on “the attacks on the values of equality and democracy “. But no vote is on the agenda.