Israelii Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday told ‎Likud ministers he expected them to express ‎‎“unreserved and unapologetic” support for ‎the controversial nation-state law.‎

‎“The Jewish nation-state is the basis of our ‎‎existence,” he said. ‎ ‎“There is constant defiance against the nation-state ‎‎law, and the discourse is very one-sided. Discussions ‎‎in media panels are shallow. Don’t be apologetic—fight for the truth,” he urged.‎

Though largely symbolic, the contentious ‎‎legislation, which states that ‎‎“Israel is ‎the ‎‎historic homeland of the Jewish ‎people and they ‎have ‎‎an exclusive right to national ‎self-‎determination in ‎‎it,” has been lambasted by Arab lawmakers as ‎‎“racist,” and ‎discriminatory against Israel’s non-Jewish citizens, which make up a substantial percentage of the population.

The Druze, a unique religious and ethnic minority ‎among Israeli Arabs, were particularly outraged by ‎the legislation, as most Druze men serve in ‎the ‎Israel Defense Forces, and members of the ‎community ‎serve in top positions in Israeli ‎‎politics and public service.‎

Several Druze leaders, including three ‎Knesset ‎members, petitioned the High Court of ‎Justice ‎against the law, saying it was ‎an “extreme act of ‎discrimination” against the ‎country’s minorities. ‎

Netanyahu was scheduled to meet with Druze leaders ‎on Sunday to hear their grievances and allay their ‎concerns. ‎

‎“We are talking with Druze leaders and today I will ‎meet with their mayors,” he said, adding that in a ‎meeting last week it was agreed to promote ‎legislation that would further ease Druze ‎integration into Israeli society, especially in the ‎workforce.‎

‎“Israeli citizens’ individual rights have been ‎cemented in a number of laws, including Basic Law: ‎Human Dignity and Liberty. These laws guarantee full ‎equality before the law, from the right to vote and ‎be elected to the Knesset to any other individual ‎right in the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said ahead ‎of the cabinet’s weekly meeting on Sunday.‎

‎“On the other hand, we have never enshrined the ‎national rights of the Jewish people in our land in ‎a basic law until now that we’ve enacted the nation-state law. What do ‘national rights’ mean? They ‎define the nature of the flag, the anthem, the ‎language and, of course, the fact one of the ‎fundamental objectives of the state is the ‎ingathering of the exiles here, in the land of ‎Israel, which is the essence of the Zionist vision.”

‘This law doesn’t discriminate’

Criticizing the law’s detractors, Netanyahu said, ‎‎“Does the determination that our flag bears the Star ‎of David somehow invalidates the individual rights ‎of any Israeli citizen? Nonsense. This statement ‎does, however, ensure that there will be no other ‎flag. Does the statement that ‘Hatikvah’ is our ‎national anthem detract from the individual rights of ‎anyone in Israel? Nonsense, it simply cements the ‎fact that there will be no other anthem. ‎

‎“There is already a proposal to replace the flag and ‎the anthem in the name of so-called equality. Many ‎countries are dealing with defiance against the ‎concept of nationality, but in Israel, this ‎undermines our very existence. For this reason, the ‎attacks by the left, which calls itself Zionist, are ‎absurd and reveal the lows to which the left ‎has sunk,” said Netanyahu.‎

‎“For decades, the opposition has been preaching to ‎us that we should withdraw to the 1967 lines in ‎order to ensure that Israel will be the nation-state ‎of the Jewish people, with a Jewish majority in the ‎country. Now, when we legislate the nation-state law, a basic law that ensures exactly this, the left ‎decries it? What hypocrisy,” he said.

‎“The Israeli left has some soul-searching to do,” he continued. “It ‎must ask itself why the basic concept of Zionism—a ‎Jewish nation-state in the [Jewish] homeland—has ‎become something to be ashamed of. We are proud of ‎our country being the national home of the Jewish ‎people, a country that meticulously observe the ‎individual rights of all its citizens.”

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev also called ‎on the Druze community to support the law. ‎

Taking on Facebook, she wrote, “You, of all people—you who have been deeply loyal to the State of Israel ‎for decades—should not be fooled by the radical ‎left. Don’t buy their media spin. Read the actual ‎law.”

‎“This law doesn’t discriminate against you. You ‎remain equal citizens in the Jewish state, which, as ‎you well know, has nothing but respect for its ‎citizens and especially for its loyal Druze ‎minority,”‎ wrote Regev.

The nation-state law, she continued, “doesn’t ‎violate your civil rights or anyone else’s rights—Christian, Muslim, Bedouin or Circassian. These ‎rights are also enshrined in Basic Law: Human ‎Dignity and Liberty.‎”

‎“All this basic law seeks to do is complement other ‎basic laws and clarify—to us and to the judiciary, ‎which seems to have forgotten, and to the entire ‎world—that from a national level there is no ‎equality,” she wrote. “Israel has and always will be a Jewish ‎state, whose flag bears the Star of David, whose ‎language is Hebrew, and whose capital is and will ‎forever be the united city of Jerusalem. You are ‎equal and respected citizens in this country.”

Slamming the law’s opponents, Regev wrote that ‎‎“those who participate in the well-publicized ‎campaign against this law have never read it in full ‎or are part of the attempts to undermine Israel’s ‎Jewish character. This will fail, and it only proves ‎how much this law was necessary.”