TEL AVIV, Israel, May 1 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Thursday his intention to introduce legislation that would establish Israel as a Jewish state.
Speaking at Tel Aviv's Independence Hall, Netanyahu explained that by proposing legislation to create a Jewish state, he is striving to preserve "the national homeland of our people."
The announcement comes almost a week after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told world leaders in a closed-door meeting of the Trilateral Commission that if there is no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, Israel risks becoming an "apartheid state." Kerry retracted his comment after it was publicized by The Daily Beast, expressing regret over his wording and insisting that he does not believe "that Israel is an apartheid state or that it intends to become one."
Netanyahu, possibly in reference to Kerry's apartheid comment, provided reassurances that the new law would respect the rights of all. "The State of Israel will always preserve full personal and civil equality for all citizens of the State of Israel, Jews and non-Jews alike, in a Jewish-democratic state." But, he underlined, Israel is and will remain a "nation state of the Jewish people."
"It is impossible to argue for the established of a national home for Palestinians in order to preserve the Jewish character of Israel, and at the same time oppose recognizing Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people."
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has not yet publicly responded to Netanyahu's announcement.