Netanyahu: Protesters Trying to Turn Country Into Israeli-Palestinian State

At Sunday's cabinet meeting, Netanyahu spoke about the joint Jewish-Arab protest against the nation-state law and about the escalation with Gaza, saying Israel wants 'a complete cease-fire; we will not be satisfied with less'

Israeli Jews and Arabs protest against the nation-state law in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, August 11, 2018.
AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel will not be satisfied with anything less than "a complete cease-fire" with Gaza. The premier aloreferred to Saturday's protest in Tel Aviv against the nation-state law, saying "Many of the demonstrators want to turn Israel into an Israeli-Palestinian state or a state of all its citizens.It is for precisely this we passed the nation-state law."

"We are in the midst of a campaign against terror in Gaza. It entails an exchange of blows; it will not end in one strike. Our demand is clear – a complete ceasefire. We will not suffice with less than this," Netanyahu said at Sunday's cabinet meeting.

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Israel has denied the existence of a cease-fire agreement, although a cease-fire has been upheld between both parties since Thursday night. 

The prime minister added: "We have destroyed hundreds of Hamas military targets, and in each round the IDF exacts an additional heavy price. I will not reveal here our operational plans, they are ready. Our objective is to restore the quiet to residents of the south and the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip; this goal will be achieved in full."

Netanyahu also spoke about Saturday's protest, in which tens of thousands of Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel marched together against the controversial nation-state law, passed by the Knesset July 19

The law states that “Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people,” which has exclusive right to self-determination in the country. It defines Hebrew as the country’s sole official language, designating Arabic as a language with special status, although adding that Arabic's status would not be harmed in practice.

In Sunday's cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that "Israel is a Jewish and democratic state. The individual rights of its citizens are anchored very well in the basic laws and other laws."

Critics of the nation-state legislation, which, as a Basic Law, bears constitutional weight, object in part to the fact that it does not include a provision stating that all Israeli citizens are equal under the law.

On Sunday, Culture Minister Miri Regev spoke about the raising of Palestinian flags at Saturday's protest. "It's absurd that the left is collaborating with the Arabs. [Former Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin is turning in his grave."

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995 by a right-wing religious man who opposed Rabin's work towards peace with the Palestinians. Rabin managed to pass the peace accord through parliament after adding the Arab parties to his government. Benjamin Netanyahu was accused of inciting against Rabin and what he termed "the Oslo criminals."

In response to Regev's statement, the Labor Party said that "Rabin would be turning in his grave if he knew an inciteful person like you was a minister in the Israeli government."