Netanyahu's Solution for Mass Druze Outrage Over Nation-state Law: A Committee

Netanyahu defends the controversial legislation, saying individual rights are anchored in many laws, 'but without a nation-state law it is impossible to fortify Israel's status as a Jewish state'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem Sunday, July 29, 2018
Sebastian Scheiner/AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Sunday the heated tensions surrounding the nation-state law, as well as the ire of the Israeli Druze community, saying he will form a special ministerial committee to resolve the matter.

The committee is set to meet Monday for the first time and to be headed by Netanyahu. 

"The deep bond between the Druze community and our commitment to it are also essential; therefore, today we will establish a special ministerial committee to advance this bond and this commitment and at the same time will appreciate those of all religions and all ethnic communities who serve in the IDF and the security forces," he said.

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Forming such a committee was part of the outline already presented by Netanyahu to the Druze community leaders on Wednesday. They rejected it on Thursday, demanding an amendment to the nation-state law addressing all minorities in Israel. 

Israel's nation-state law

Speaking at the start of the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu defended the purpose of the controversial legislation, saying: "Individual rights are anchored in many laws. No one harmed them and no one intends to harm them, but without a nation-state law it is impossible to fortify Israel's status as a Jewish state."

Netanyahu went on to say the law helps prevent unification of Palestinian families, and in the future could possibly help block entry of "infiltrators."

Tens of thousands of people rallied in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square in a major protest led by the Druze community against the contentious nation-state law, which has stood at the center of dispute between the Israeli government and the Druze.

Protesters called for the country to endorse the Declaration of Indepedence and waved signs emblazoned with statements such as "If we are brothers we must be equals," "Our force is in our unity – the nation-state law differentiates between us."

A fake correspondence between right-wing activists in Israel's Labor Party regarding a deal in the works between the Druze community and party members circulated on social media on Saturday ahead of the protest.

The fictitious deal spread by right-wing activists garnered the interest of many Israelis browsing their social media outlets after a meeting between Netanyahu and leaders of the Druze community was cut short Thursday night.

Screenshots of fake conversations between members of a WhatsApp group titled ''The Labor Party- Core Headquarters'' were posted to the Facebook pages of two Labor activists with a large social media following, and the made-up chats were shared by at least 1,000 people.

The main activist announcing the deal in the fake WhatsApp conversation was a man named Avi Yaron. However, Haaretz has learned that there is no Labor activist with that name.