Netanyahu: We Won’t Let Them Replace Our Flag

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrives to the weekly Cabinet meeting at his office in Yerushalayim, August 1. (Jim Hollander/Pool via Reuters)

The Motzoei Shabbos demonstration by Arabs and leftists in Tel Aviv against the Nationality Law, in which Palestinian flags were flown, was a central topic of discussion in Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, with ministers railing against the demonstration – led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who said that the demonstrators “want us to fold up our flag and replace it with theirs. They want to do away with Israel as the national state of the Jewish people, and turn it into an Israeli-Palestinian state, according to some, or ‘state of all its citizens,’ according to others. This is exactly why we passed the Nationality Law,” Netanyahu said.

“We are proud of our state, we are proud of our flag, we are proud of our national anthem,” the prime minister said. “Israel is a Jewish and democratic state. The personal rights of citizens are anchored in the Basic Laws and in other laws. Now it is clearer than ever why the Nationality Law is so necessary. We need it to guarantee the future of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people. We passed this law and we will ensure that it remains on the books.”

Speaking at the meeting, Culture Minister Miri Regev said that she planned to discuss the flying of Palestinian flags with the State Attorney. “The fact that the left has joined with the Arabs is absurd,” she said. If Yitzchak Rabin was aware of what transpired in the Tel Aviv square bearing his name, “he would be turning over in his grave. The problem is not the Nationality Law, but that they see the state as one of all its citizens. What we saw in the demonstration was incitement to violence in the heart of Tel Aviv. We need a clear statement from the State Attorney about this.”

Speaking on Reshet Bet, Meretz MK Issawi Frij said that he was pleased with the large numbers of both Jews and Arabs who participated in the demonstration. “This was the most Israeli event possible. We had tens of thousands of all kinds of people – young and old, women and men, families with children. They all came to Tel Aviv to present a clear message, that they do not care if an individual is Arab or Jewish.” Israelis, he said, should “get used to the flying of Palestinian flags. Just like Jews can carry the Israeli flag down Fifth Avenue in New York, Arab Israelis can fly their flag in Tel Aviv. We can be, and must be, both Israeli citizens and members of the Palestinian nation. This is our identity, and there is no reason for us to be ashamed of it.”

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