JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in full campaign mode ahead of April 9 polls, on Sunday said Israel was not a state of all its citizens in a reference to the countrys Arab population.
The prime minister, in comments on Instagram, went on to say all citizens, including Arabs, had equal rights, but referred to a deeply controversial law passed last year declaring Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people.
Israel is not a state of all its citizens, Netanyahu wrote in response to comments from an Israeli actress.
According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and only it.
As you wrote, there is no problem with the Arab citizens of Israel. They have equal rights like all of us and the Likud government has invested more in the Arab sector than any other government, he said of his right-wing party.
As the comments caused waves in Israel, Netanyahu again spoke of the issue at the start of a cabinet meeting, making similar comments.
He called Israel a Jewish, democratic state with equal rights, but the nation-state not of all its citizens, but only of the Jewish people.
Netanyahu has been accused of demonising Israeli Arabs, who make up some 17.5 per cent of the population, ahead of April polls in a bid to boost right-wing turnout.
He has continually warned that his opponents will receive the support of Arab parties and that they will make significant concessions to the Palestinians.
Netanyahu, under threat of indictment for corruption, is facing a tough challenge from a centrist political alliance led by former military chief of staff Benny Gantz and ex-finance minister Yair Lapid.
The alliances centrist positions and its security credentials it includes three former military chiefs of staff have helped it beat back Netanyahus claims that its leaders are weak leftists.
Arab parties would be extremely unlikely to be part of any coalition government after elections.
Arab Israelis are Palestinians who remained on their land after the 1948 creation of Israel and are largely supportive of the Palestinian cause.
Netanyahu leads what is seen as the most right-wing government in Israels history and says he wants a similar coalition after the upcoming polls.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.