“It is not enough that the E.U. finances NGOs that strive to undermine the State of Israel and finance illegal construction it is now interfering with Israeli legislation. Apparently, they do not understand that Israel is a sovereign state.”
This was the wording of a press statement issued on Thursday by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office informing that he has instructed the Foreign Ministry Director General to summon the E.U. Ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, for a second reprimand, and that “he also intends to take additional steps.”
Giaufret appeared at the Foreign Ministry on Friday morning, but no details from the meeting were released.
The diplomatic reprimand follows a report that the ambassador had lobbied members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to vote against a bill being advanced by the Likud-led coalition government to enshrine Israel’s status as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
The European Union is pressuring Israel not to pass the law, claiming one of the clauses is “racist,” and if passed would harm Israel’s international standing.
The so-called “Nationality Bill” would establish the status of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in its homeland as a unique right for the Jewish people. It would also anchor the symbols of the state, Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the Jewish calendar as the country’s official calendar and Hebrew as the official language.
The current draft also includes a controversial section, Clause 7, which would permit the establishment of town councils to maintain the character of a particular community, and bar would-be residents from other sectors of the population.
“The law stinks of racism, and it discriminates against various groups, particularly Arabs, and weakens the values Israel tries to uphold,” Ambassador Giaufret reportedly said.
Netanyahu has defended the bill by saying most Israelis want to preserve the Jewish identity of the country, and that “the majority rules.”
“In the Israeli democracy, we will continue to protect the rights of both the individual and the group; this is guaranteed. But the majority have rights, too, and the majority rules,” he said.
“The vast majority of people want to preserve the Jewish character of our country for generations to come,” he said. “This combination of individual rights and group rights are the definition of a Jewish and democratic state.”