Reuters: Israel’s new “nation-state” law has provoked anger among members of its most integrated minority, the Druze, prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to seek corrective legislation. Netanyahu has defended the law, which declares that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country, from fierce criticism at home and abroad.
But his conservative government appears to have been blindsided by the response from the Druze community, even though parliament passed the law on July 19 after years of heated debate in the Knesset.
In a further effort to calm tensions, Netanyahu convened a meeting with Druze community leaders in Tel Aviv late on Thursday but it was cut short because one of the participants, a retired senior military officer, had harshly criticized the legislation, Israeli media reported.
At a separate event in northern Israel, a Druze man had to be forcibly removed by police after he confronted and heckled one of the law’s main proponents, lawmaker Avi Dichter of Netanyahu’s Likud party who had started giving a speech. Leaders of Israel’s main Arab minority denounced the law while Turkey called it racist and the European Union expressed concern. Netanyahu took this in his stride, saying it was needed to fend off Palestinian challenges to Jewish self-determination.
But criticism from Druze, who are also Arabs and practise an offshoot of Islam, has had more effect even though they make up only 1.3 percent of Israel’s citizenry.