Labor Min. to Lieberman: Nakba bill sullies Israel's image
Ministerial panel approves bill to ban funding by the state of groups that mark the Palestinian Nakba.
A bill banning state funding for groups that mark the Palestinian Nakba sullies Israel's image in the world, Labor party minister Avishay Braverman (Labor) told Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday.
Braverman's comments came a few hours after the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved the bill, which was submitted by Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party.
"To my sorrow, instead of acting to strengthen the connection with the Arab citizens of Israel and acting to grant them equal rights, there are people today who for political reasons adopt bills that might strengthen them amongst the voting public, but at the same time harm the fragile fabric of Jewish-Arab relations in Israel and also defame Israel in the world," Braverman said during a cabinet meeting.
Nakba ("catastrophe") day commemorates Israel's independence as a day of mourning.
At the ministerial meeting, only Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon (Labor) voted against the proposal.
Lieberman responded to Braverman, who is Minority Affairs minister, by saying that the bill had actually been softened.
"If you just want a headline then that's alright," Lieberman said. "But the law now speaks only about activities by local authorities."
The bill is the revised version of a proposed law scrapped two months ago - after opposition from several ministers - that would have forbidden Israeli Arabs from commemorating the Nakba, or "catastrophe," on Independence Day.
MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beiteinu), who submitted the bill, said: "The Israeli government today sent an important message to all who do not want the best for the state, and it said: 'enough to lawlessness.'"
The new bill prohibits funding of activities that reject the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish state or deny the democratic character of the state.
It also outlaws funding for activities that fall within the definition of armed struggle or terrorist activities - by an enemy state or a terror organization - against Israel.
Additionally, the bill prohibits funding for activities that could harm the honor of the flag, the state or state symbols.
Arab MKs reacted with anger to the committee's approval of the bill.
Balad chairman Jamal Zahalka called the bill "a law of cowards that will not influence us. We will increase the commemoration of the Nakba."
United Arab list chairman Ahmed Tibi said that the government is in "hysteria against Arab citizens. The ministers are more toxic than the Border Police."