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State of Israel aims to recognize Druze, Bedouin sacrifices in war by amending controversial nationality law

Druze and Bedouin communities demand recognition by Jewish majority

Family and friends of Israeli soldier Adi Malik Harb mourn at his funeral in the Druze village of Beit Jann, on November 19, 2023, he was killed during a ground operation in the Gaza Strip. (Photo: David Cohen/Flash90)

The Hamas massacre on Oct. 7, and the subsequent war, have resulted in the death and injury of thousands of Israeli citizens, including not only Jews but many Druze and Bedouin citizens and soldiers, as well.

In recognition of their sacrifices during the Swords of Iron war against Hamas terrorists in Gaza, the Israeli governing coalition on Saturday announced plans to legislate a basic law giving the Druze minority a special status in the state, Israeli media reported.

“In the coming days we will advance the proposal for a basic law of the Druze community, which aims to anchor the important position of the Druze community in the State of Israel,” coalition chairman Ofir Katz of the Likud party, said.

In addition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday promised to change existing policies to answer longstanding demands of the Druze community, without pledging to change the controversial Basic Law: Nation-State of the Jewish People from 2018.

The law angered many Druze and Arab Israeli citizens by categorically defining the Israeli state as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

In another concession to the Druze community, the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environmental Committee began discussing a change to a national park regulation in order to enable the expansion of the Druze town of Daliyat el-Carmel.

Arab Israeli Knesset Member Waleed Al-Hawashla of the Ra’am political party, also appealed to the committee for similar concessions on behalf of Bedouin communities in the south, many of which were hard hit by the Hamas assault, resulting in community members being murdered or kidnapped by the terrorists.

“I think we need to change our attitude toward Bedouin communities in the Negev,” Al-Hawashla said.

On Sunday, Bedouin community leader Amir Mazarib appealed to Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, asking the government to include members of the Bedouin community in the new basic law.

"Including them in the amendment of the law will not only acknowledge their sacrifice, but will also serve as a positive step towards recognizing the diverse contributions of the entire Bedouin society in our country," Mazarib said.

Bedouin males are permitted to volunteer for service in the IDF. Druze males are recruited and serve in the IDF with distinction, which has led to Israeli politicians often referring to a “blood covenant” between Jews and the Druze community.

In a ceremony commemorating Lt.-Col. Salman Habka and Lt.-Col. Alim Abdullah, who fell during the fighting in the Gaza Strip and the northern border, Welfare Minister Yaakov Margi alluded to this covenant.

“This will be the sign of the covenant - the amendment of the nationality law,” he said.

“We didn't make a blood covenant, we made a covenant of life! And in this covenant, there is one side that fulfills its part, with blood and sweat, again and again … unfortunately … the other side, which is the state, couldn’t translate this covenant of life to the same extent.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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