National/World

Task force addresses Druze concerns about Israel’s nation-state law

(JTA) – A team tasked with formulating a plan to address the Druze community’s discomfort with the nation-state law has presented its recommendations three days after it was assembled. The findings presented Aug. 1 will be turned over to a newly established ministerial committee chaired by Prime Minister Netanyahu. The controversial law with quasi-constitutional status passed last week enshrines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. The law identifies Arabic as a language with “special status.” In the wake of backlash from the Druze community, Netanyahu has met with Druze leaders. An Arab-Israeli lawmaker from the Labor Party and three Druze officers from the Israeli army have resigned in recent days over the law.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office called the plan “an historic outline that constitutes a revolution in the legal status of minority community members who serve in the security forces, particularly the Druze community.” The outline calls for “anchoring in law the status of the Druze and Circassian communities. The law will esteem the contribution of the Druze community to the State of Israel in building up the country, strengthening security and fashioning the face of Israeli society as an equal and varied society.” It also calls for support for community religious, cultural and educational institutions; the strengthening of Druze towns and villages, including solutions for residential construction and the establishment of new communities as necessary; and the preservation of the Druze heritage. Also, the outline says the government must “anchor in a basic law recognition of the contribution of those – of all faiths and communities, including the Druze – who take part in the defense of the state.” The law also would enshrine the eligibility for benefits of minority community members of all faiths and communities who serve in Israel’s security forces in order to help them achieve social equality.

A group of Druze lawmakers who filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court against the law told Ynet that they would drop their petition if the plan moves forward.

“It allows us to be proud and equal citizens among our nation and country,”  Kulanu party lawmaker Akram Hasson told Ynet. “All we wanted is to be one people and one state. If the plan we received is indeed implemented, we will absolutely stop everything.”

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