A planned demonstration over the Nationality Law will take place as scheduled, but leaders of the Druze community are likely to pull a petition they filed with the High Court against the law, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu worked out a deal to cement the status of the Druze community in a law the Likud will push in the Knesset after the summer recess.
Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, a member of the community, praised the prime minister for the plan, saying that the new measure, in the form of an amendment to the Law on National Service, “solves the problems that many claim are present in the Nationality Law by having the state officially recognize the contribution of members of the Druze and Cicassian communities who serve in the IDF and ensure that they are given rights and preferences, especially in housing.”
Kara, along with Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, helped work out the deal with top members of the Druze community, who had complained that the law was discriminatory. In recent weeks, members of the Druze community – which Kara is a member of – have complained that the Nationality Law “breaks the traditional alliance between Israel and the Druze.” Among the tenets of the law are that Israel is the “national home” of the Jewish people; that Israel is obligated to preserve Jewish culture and tradition; that the Jewish calendar be used whenever possible to conduct state business; that Jewish law be the “source of inspiration” for legislation by the Knesset and decisions by the courts; that Jews be given the opportunity to immigrate to Israel and receive citizenship; that Hebrew be recognized as the primary official language of the country; and that the state encourage Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel.
Members of the Druze community have filed petitions with the High Court against the law. Among them are MK Akhram Hasson (Kulanu), who said that “we have no problem with Israel as a Jewish state, but what about us? What about those among us who sacrificed their lives for the state, what about the 420 Druze killed in wars and the thousands injured? The Nationality Law turns us into second-class citizens – actually seventh-class – and guarantees that we will be discriminated against in budgets, education, planning and much more.”
Under the plan, the Knesset will amend laws pertaining to IDF duty, officially recognizing the contributions of the Druze and Circassian communities to the IDF and the defense of the state, and to building and developing the state. The amendment will provide for the strengthening of Druze and Circassian communities, the construction of new communities, support for the communities’ institutions, and preservation of its institutions.
In a statement, the heads of the Druze community said that they “were grateful to the prime minister for his tireless efforts to ensure the status of the Druze community in Israel. We have no doubt that a window of opportunity has been created to advance the status of the community.”