Netanyahu Tells Panel Set Up to Resolve Druze Protest: ‘No Hasty Decisions’ on Nation-state Law

Only 5 ministers present at committee set up by the prime minister to handle backlash of nation-state law ■ Brig. Gen. (res.) Amal Assad, leader of Druze protest: 'We expect a solution that includes total equality'

Israelis from the Druze minority, together with others, take part in a rally to protest the nation-state law in Tel Aviv on  August 4, against the backdrop of a banner of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  The sign in Hebrew reads "The Future of our Children is shared".
Corinna Kern /Reuters

A ministerial committee, established in the wake of the Druze protest against the nation­­-state law,­­ held its first session on Monday in the presence of five of the 11 ministers appointed to the panel.

Speaking at the meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated that the committee should not be expected to make rapid decisions.

To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz

“It’s important that we make correct decisions and not act hastily. We worked on the nation-state law for eight years. I’m not saying that we’ll work on this for eight years, but it won’t be eight days either,” said Netanyahu at the first session of the Ministerial Committee on Druze, Circassian and Minority Community Members who serve in the Security Forces Affairs.

Last week Netanyahu proposed the establishment of the committee in response to fierce opposition by Druze leaders to the nation-state law, which they decried as discriminatory and failing to recognize the sacrifice Druze have made by serving in the Israel Defense Forces.

Last week Druze leaders said that the establishment of the committee did not address their demand, which is for the law to be amended.

Brigadier General (res.) Amal Asad, a leader of the fight against the law, said: “Our position remains unchanged. We expect a solution that includes total equality.”

>> Dreyfus for Druze: For Israel's non-Jewish minorities, loyalty to the state ensures radical disenchatment | Opinion ■ Netanyahu's spin backfired, fueling massive Druze nation-state protest rallyBehind the scenes: How Netanyahu's 'apartheid' trap torpedoed talks with Druze leaders <<

Ahead of the ministerial meeting, Druze leaders commented: “We continue to request and demand that the prime minister enshrine the legal status of the Druze community so as to grant full equality and equal citizenship in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence. At the same time, we will continue to study the principles that are at the basis of the outline for achieving equal civil rights for the Druze.”

The five ministers who attended the session were Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel and Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, who was added to the committee after it was first established. Yesterday Netanyahu announced that the committee would also include Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant, Regional Cooperation Minister Tzahi Hanegbi and Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev.

Deputy Minister Yitzhak Cohen was sent to sit in for Kahlon; Hagai Resnik, the director-general of the Housing Ministry, sat in for Galant; and Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan came in place of Lieberman. Both Hanegbi and Bennett were abroad. Regev and Deri are currently in Israel but were absent from the meeting.

Netanyahu told the committee to, “Promote the deep connection with the Druze community and our commitment to it, and show appreciation for all those who serve in the IDF and the security forces.”