Israeli PM Lapid vows to change Jewish nation-state law

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Israeli PM Lapid vows to change Jewish nation-state law

Lapid also promised to make sure that the Temple Mount status-quo isn't violated

Yair Lapid arrives at the Israeli president's residence (Photo: Beit HaNasi)
Yair Lapid arrives at the Israeli president's residence (Photo: Beit HaNasi)

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid vowed to change the controversial Jewish nation-state law which has been criticised for discriminating against non-Jewish minorities in Israel.

“I oppose the Nation-State law and I think it should be changed and a section of civil equality added to it. There were talks about this, that a section be added to the basic law: human dignity and freedom,” Lapid told Arab-Israeli Hala TV.

The nation-state law stipulates that Israel is the “historical homeland of the Jewish people” and that the state “views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value, and shall act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation”.

Some 20 percent of Israelis are Arabic speaking Muslims or Christian, but the nation-state law establishes Hebrew as the official language while Arabic has a “special status”.

“At the time I was strongly opposed to the Nation-State Law and in the Knesset plenum I said ‘the State will not humiliate its citizens.’ The Nation-State Law as it is written today is an insult to non-Jewish Israeli citizens and must be amended.”

Lapid also promised not to change the Temple Mount status-quo agreement with Jordan from 1967 which says Jews are forbidden from praying at the site.

The Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif to Muslims, is the holiest site in Judaism. The Al-Aqsa mosque is located on the Temple Mount and is considered the third holiest place for Muslims.

“We will take care of the freedom of worship of Muslims at al-Aqsa, who can go up to pray. We allow Jewish visitors to ascend the mount, but not to pray. They ascend and the visits are under supervision to make sure that the status quo is not violated,” Lapid said.

The Israeli government has repeatedly said it is committed to the status-quo, but religious Jews have repeatedly been filmed praying on the Temple Mount in recent years.

Far-right lawmakers like Itamar Ben-Gvir have also vowed to change the status-quo agreement and to apply Israeli sovereignty on the site.

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