Press Release

"Nation-State" Bill Minimizes Israel's Democratic Essence

Declaration of Independence, Written Constitution Are Preferable Alternatives

In response to the various proposals for a "Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People," IDI President Yohanan Plesner released the following statement:

The various proposals for a new "Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People" touch on raw nerves at an especially delicate moment in our nation's history.

Israel is and will remain the Nation State of the Jewish People. This fact is enshrined in Israel's Declaration of Independence, signed by the founders of the state in 1948. However, that declaration also emphasizes the Jewish State's absolute commitment to the equality of all of its citizens—an essential component missing from the proposals being presented to the government today. The intent to approve a draft of the bill that does not mention the principle of equality, thereby minimizing Israel's democratic essence and rendering it subservient to the Jewish character of the State, is inappropriate for a vibrant democracy like Israel's and falls short of the standards  to which a Jewish democracy should aspire. Moreover, the hasty passage of such a fundamental change to Israel's constitutional foundations, without serious consideration and deliberation in the Knesset, smacks of populist politicking that has no room in Israel's constitutional debate.

Our ministers must reject this bill outright and consider instead the passage of a basic law enshrining the principles of the Declaration of Independence in Israel's legal regime – or in the longer-term, the passage of a balanced constitution including a bill of rights.