Is­rael faces show­down over bill

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

TEL AVIV: Is­rael was headed for a po­ten­tial po­lit­i­cal cri­sis as Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu’s key coali­tion part­ners said they would not support a con­tro­ver­sial bill that de­fines the coun­try as the na­tion state of the Jewish peo­ple.

Ne­tanyahu is sched­uled to bring the bill be­fore par­lia­ment to­mor­row for a pre­lim­i­nary read­ing.

“I think this law pro­posal harms Zion­ism and de­stroys the State of Is­rael,” cen­trist Jus­tice Min­is­ter Tzipi Livni said yes­ter­day. “If it is brought (to par­lia­ment) on Wed­nes­day we will not let it pass,” she said.

The head of the six-seat The Move­ment said she would ei­ther vote against the bill, or ab­stain to give Ne­tanyahu an op­por­tu­nity not to fire coali­tion part­ners vot­ing against his in­struc­tions.

Cen­trist Fi­nance Min­is­ter Yair Lapid, of the 19-seat Yesh Atid, Ne­tanyahu’s big­gest part­ner, has also said he will not vote for the bill.

“The prime min­is­ter will have to con­sider whether he wants to fire min­is­ters in his gov­ern­ment and break up his coali­tion over their op­po­si­tion to a law that works against an Is­rael that is both Jewish and demo­cratic,” Livni said.

With­out the support of Livni and Lapid, Ne­tanyahu will likely have no majority, as his oth­er­wise right-wing na­tion­al­ist coali­tion counts a to­tal of 68 man­dates in the 120-seat Knes­set.

The Is­raeli premier may find a rea­son to put off the bill.

After a stormy de­bate, 14 cab­i­net mem­bers voted on Sun­day in favour of such a law, while six voted against, de­spite crit­i­cism that it could of­fend and vi­o­late the rights of the state’s non-Jewish mi­nor­ity.

Un­der a com­pro­mise put for­ward by Ne­tanyahu, a fi­nal ver­sion of the bill would be phrased with the help of the at­tor­ney gen­eral.

Arab Is­raelis form a 20 per­cent mi­nor­ity of Is­rael’s pop­u­la­tion of 8 mil­lion. – Sapa-dpa

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