Second Israeli Minister Admits 'Mistake' Over Controversial Nation-state Law

'The enactment of the nation-state law was done hastily,' Moshe Kahlon tells Army Radio, 'we were wrong and we need to fix it'

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon with Prime Minister Benjamin Nentanyahu in Jerusalem, January 11, 2018
Alex Kolomoisky

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon admitted Thursday that mistakes were made in the recently approved nation-state law, saying it should be amended.

"The enactment of the nation-state law was done hastily," he told Army Radio, "we were wrong and we need to fix it."

The surrogacy law also needs to be amended to include members of the LGBT community, Kahlon said in the interview. MK Meirav Ben-Ari of his party Kulanu will work with Amir Ohana (Likud) on amending the law, he added. 

Kahlon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are expected to meet Thursday at 1 P.M. (Israel Time) with representatives of the Druze community against the backdrop of mass protests against the law. MK Akram Hasoon (Zionist Union), Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Communications Minister Ayoub Kara are expected to participate in the meeting at the military headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Three Knesset members are expected to challenge the law in the High Court of Justice. They include Hasoon and two other Druze MKs, Saleh Saad (Zionist Union) and Hamad Amar (Yisrael Beiteinu).

The petitioners asked the court to annul the law or rule out parts of it on the grounds of infringement on basic rights, including the right to equality. They said that in the law, minorities have no status. It essentially exiles the Druze and others despite their service and loyalty to the state, the three wrote.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who supported and voted for the law, admitted on Wednesday to belatedly realizing that the law hurt the feelings of members of Israel's Druze community.

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"That is of course is not the Israeli government's intention," Bennett tweeted. "These are our blood brothers, who stand shoulder to shoulder with us in the battlefield and who have entered into a life covenant with us. We, the government of Israel, have the responsibility of finding a way to repair the rift."

The nation-state law is designed to alter the application of the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty in court rulings, and permit judges to give priority to Israel’s Jewish character in their rulings. The government coalition tried to get a more sweeping version of the nation-state bill passed, which would have brought about more significant change.

For years the nation-state law, including in its previous, more extreme forms, was promoted by Ayelet Shaked, a member of Bennett’s party and now justice minister.