Newly appointed opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni of the Zionist Union delivered a scathing indictment of Israel’s government during an extraordinary session of the Knesset called to discuss the Nation-State Law during the parliament summer recess. In her first speech since taking over the position on August 1, Livni accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of sowing distrust and destruction in Israeli society, blasting him for labeling any political opposition to him as treason, and vowing to defend Israel’s Declaration of Independence and the democratic values it embodies.
“It’s time to change the conversation from who is for or against your spins, to who is for or against the Declaration of Independence. There is one question the prime minister cannot answer: What the hell does he have against the Declaration of Independence?,” asked Livni. “70 years after the establishment of the Jewish State, Israel’s government is tearing up both the Declaration of Independence and Israeli society along with it We will not flinch, and we will not fear,” she added. “We don’t represent a minority…Today we declare that we will defend the Declaration of Independence, that we will be the dash connecting between Jewish and Democratic, and not the line that divides them.”
During Livni’s speech, about 30 demonstrators held up copies of the Declaration of Independence in protest against the Nation-State Law. The copies of the declaration were confiscated by Knesset security personnel and the demonstrators were forcibly removed.
“Today, we also declare one more thing,” Livni continued, “from here on, the rules of the game have changed. If you think that you can label anyone who disagrees with you as a traitor – that is over. We have no intention to bow our heads, to apologize or to flinch. We have a battle to fight, with our heads held high. Netanyahu, you have forgotten what it is to be a Jew, to love your neighbor, to love the stranger. You’ve turned into another populist politician who stands at the head of a populist party, and is spreading hatred of foreigners and minorities to serve his political needs.
“Our stance is that Israel is the Nation State of the Jewish people, which includes equality for all. I have a deep disagreement with those who do not accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, just as I have a deep and severe disagreement with the current government.”
Livni ended her speech with a call to Netanyahu not to wait until the Ultra-Orthodox parties topple his government in response to the looming Draft Law legislation, but to face the opposition in open elections sooner rather than later. “Citizens of Israel, let us step out of this swamp for a moment, and imagine a reality in which we replace all this arm twisting with dialogue. A dialogue that is conducted with respect to all parts of Israeli society. Netanyahu, why wait for the Draft Law? Let’s go to elections now. We promise to bring the principles of the Declaration of Independence back into our lives. That is our obligation, which we will fight for it until we win the elections. Your time is up.”
Written by Yona Schnitzer/TPS | Photo by Hillel Maeir/TPS
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