March 8th, 2014
08:37 PM ET

Israeli minister: Palestinians need to recognize Israel as Jewish state

Fareed speaks with Israel’s economics minister, Naftali Bennett, about the status of Arab Israelis. Watch the full interview this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has talked about the importance of the Palestinians recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.  You've gone a bit further. You've said that it’s very important to strengthen exclusively the Jewish identity of Israel. What you do with the 20 percent of Arabs who live in Israel if they're not Jewish.

I'm a big supporter of full equal rights for the Arab Israelis. Twenty percent of Israelis are Arab.  They vote for the Knesset the same. They can be elected.  There are members of parliament, of the Knesset, that are Arab. And I support full equal rights for them.

As a nation-state, Israel is the Jewish nation-state.  So if we don't get that recognition from the Palestinians, essentially, they're saying give us our own state and now we want half of your state.  Well, it would be one and a half Palestinian states and only half a Jewish state.  And they're not willing to recognize that.

No, but how would you feel if a European state were to say, look, we can have other people live in this country, fine. But we are a Christian country and we will only emphasize the Christian character of that country? How would that make the Jews in that country feel? So what I'm asking is about this idea that Israel, in your words, I think, should have an exclusively Jewish identity, as its national identity.

Yes, because I'm talking about the Jewish nation, not the Jewish religion.  OK, we're not a theocracy.  But France is for French.  Yes, France views itself as a French state.

But anyone can be...


…any people can be French even if they're Muslim or Christian or Jewish.

Fine.  I'm not talking about religion, I'm talking about the Jews as a nation. Look, the Arabs have 22 countries.  We only have one. And it happens to be tiny. From side to side, it's about a 10 minute ride. Do you realize that, from one side to another, 10 minutes?  You get in a car and it takes 10 minutes.  We've got a tiny state. That's our only place on the entire globe.  We've been there for roughly 3,800 years, since Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.  That's what we've got.

Do I want to split that and give it over to people who tend to kill us? No, I don't.  I think we've got to be reasonable, but at the same time, we have to take care of those Israeli-Arabs.  And I want to tell you, the Israeli-Arabs have more rights than any Arabs in the entire region.  The Arabs living in Israel have the best human rights than anyone in the region.  They vote.  They work.  They can be anything.

But there are many disparities...

…anything they want.

There are many disparities between them and the Jews in Israel.  And, in fact, you got into a bit of a controversy about the water rights of Palestinians.  I saw an open letter in Haaretz to you from a Palestinian pointing out that Palestinians are given almost one sixth the amount of water.  These are Arabs with Israeli passports in Israel.  The education levels are much lower.  You know the per capita income of Israeli-Arabs is much lower than that of Israeli Jews.

We've got a lot of work to do.  I think, also, in America, there is certain minorities that have lower living standards and you need to invest in it. I myself am minister of economy. I have a huge project of helping Arab women get employed.  Only 25 percent of them work.  I want 50 and 60 percent.  I've opened up 63 employment centers for Arab women across Israel.  We're willing to subsidize their vocational studies.

We've got a lot of work.  It's a social issue inside of Israel.  It exists.

But do they have full equal rights?

They vote in the Knesset.  They vote in my parliament.  There's Arab members of Knesset. And that's the way it should be.  I don't recall that in Saudi Arabia, there's any Jewish members of parliament.  I know that all across the region, there's apartheid against other religions.  Not in Israel. In Israel, one and a half million Arabs enjoy full, full equal rights – period.

Post by:
Topics: GPS Show • Israel • Palestinian Authority

soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Steve Benassi

    Racist Naftali Bennet wants status quo for another 100 years, steal more Palestinian land, push the natives into smaller and smaller reservations, hoping that they will leave for the outside word, so Jews can have it all to themselves...slow motion ethnic cleansing.

    March 8, 2014 at 9:38 pm |
    • john

      But is really Jewish land. Muslims are illegally occupying it. Muslims need to be expelled from Israel.

      March 10, 2014 at 12:56 am |
      • j. von hettlingen

        I doubt if Naftali Bennet really meant what he said. He might be preaching water, while drinking wine.

        March 11, 2014 at 10:04 am |
      • Thinker23

        j. von hettlingen... I'm sure that YOU know better than Mr. Bennett himself what he "REALLY" meant...

        March 11, 2014 at 10:21 am |
      • Ed

        According to who? International law does not recognize Israel's claims to the OPT including East Jerusalem. In fact the ICJ Advisory Court Decision a couple years back confirmed the international legal stance on the issue. The core of the issue is territory cannot be acquired by war. Israel acquired the OPT including East Jerusalem in the 1967 war. SC Resolution 242 clearly says the inadmissibility of acquiring land by war.

        March 13, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
    • Thinker23

      "Racist Naftali Bennet wants..."

      Why don't you tell us what YOU want and leave Mr. Bennett to tell us what HE wants? Apparently, he known way better what he want than YOU do. If it was not the case, you would tell us what HE actually said that you did not agree with.

      March 10, 2014 at 7:38 am |
  2. chrissy

    Hmm i dont think its the palestinians that have a problem recognising that israeli's have rights so much as the other way around! And im surprised this clown thinks people are gonna believe this after all the past events. We dont all have short term memory after all!

    March 8, 2014 at 11:39 pm |
    • Thinker23

      What YOU think is irrelevant here. The FACTS, however, are that Israel DID recognize the right of Palestinian Arabs to have a state since 1948. Israel also recognized each and every EXISTING Arab state as an Arab state.

      March 10, 2014 at 7:41 am |
  3. Allan Kinsman

    In politics it seems true when you think something is true you repeat yourself in order to believe it. For example "the United States of America is the most powerful country in the world". We hear this said by the press and by the politicians the press repeats over and over again. I am also reminded of a quote by Malcolm X which I believe is valid, "we didn't land on plymouth rock, plymouth rock landed on us". Force and coercion have been used to change the shape of the world many times. The problem as I see it is we seem to keep repeating the same mistakes. I don't know why? Isn't it a definition of insanity when we repeat the same mistakes and expect a different outcome?

    March 8, 2014 at 11:48 pm |
    • Thinker23

      As long as you will continue producing posts with no clear point you will continue getting the same results.

      March 10, 2014 at 7:45 am |
      • Allan Kinsman

        Nationalism is one of the many causes of prejudice. Along with religion and lines on a map human beings have argued for thousands of years. Democracys are just as libel to cause conflict. I speak in general terms often because in my mind human beings are off track. The greater good could be done but we modern humans build weapons which can destroy worlds. Is this the right direction? I say catagorically no! As long as we have the means to use violence to make our points and influence we will fail. Great teachers come along and they are illiminated because they attempt to reason but we seem to want to argue. I hope this helps my lack of clarity for you. The only result I seek is we stop killing each other and listen. If we ever do this we may find out our common threads far out weigh our differences.

        March 19, 2014 at 12:38 pm |
  4. downtown dave

    The Arabs and Palestinians continue to try and take hold of the land of Israel in the wrong way. They want to get rid of the Jews and take the land for themselves. They don't understand there is a way to become citizens without force. "This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel,..."

    March 9, 2014 at 8:09 am |
  5. killaw

    Typically ignorant and nonsensical israeli minister. Just pathetic...

    March 9, 2014 at 8:57 am |
  6. meh

    One thing the economics minister said that really stood out to me and made me think was, "across the region, there's apartheid against other religions" I am generally a Palestinian sympathizer, but this statement made me realize that there are much bigger human rights violation in the middle east. Of course this is no excuse for mistreatment of Palestinian's in Israel, but it does help me see things from an Israeli Jew's point of view.

    March 9, 2014 at 10:38 am |
    • Thinker23

      Can you elaborate on this please? What exactly you mean by "mistreatment of Palestinians in Israel"?

      March 10, 2014 at 7:47 am |
      • Palestine

        And you call yourself thinker??????????

        March 12, 2014 at 7:49 am |
      • Ed

        All we have to do is look at the various reports from mainstream human rights organizations including B'Tselem.

        March 13, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
  7. Joshua

    well, my take on dz z if a prob has bin approached at different pts in tym and has rcvd d same template of result, y dnt we facilitate anoda means of tackling such a problem. y wud d arabs wntu tk a portion of d land dat aint theirs by all measures...can England gv up a prt of its land 2 wt z called arab-British...d ansa z no, buh rada dey enjoi same benefits as citizens of Britain buh wiv a level of restriction.

    March 9, 2014 at 11:02 am |
  8. M McL

    People don’t hafta consider Israel as thee Jewish state anymore than we need to think Madonna is a virgin.

    March 9, 2014 at 11:53 am |
  9. Inheritor

    The only place in the Middle East Where Christians Jews and Arabs Can live together in peace is Israel! In the rest of the middle east you can be executed just because you are a Christian or a Jew or worshipping as one. Your rabid response indicates your lack of any humanity or conscience. We have already seen how tough the Arab world is in their Wars with Israel. Where in the world is the peace of Islam? The Rest of the pathetic posters here live in squalid ignorance!

    March 9, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      The "peace of Islam" is in the minds of many of my friends who are Muslim. They use positive aspects of their religion every day, as do some Christians and some Jewish persons.

      March 12, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
  10. chaag

    Reblogged this on Gab .

    March 9, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
  11. Bruceben9

    Not only are there 22 Arab countries, there are 57 Islamic countries. Can you say hipocrits?

    March 9, 2014 at 10:24 pm |
    • Thinker23

      Apparently not. The 22 Member states of the Arab League are definitely Arab states but ANY state where Arabs live CAN NOT be anything but an Arab state... Not a French, not a British, not a German, not an Italian...

      March 10, 2014 at 7:51 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©


      March 12, 2014 at 3:58 pm |
  12. Northern

    Mr. Bennett makes some very good points here. I really do not think that the Arabs really want another state – what they really want is to make Israel smaller and smaller so they can eventually destroy it. If the Arab nations that attacked the new state of Israel in 1948 had succeeded in their aim of pushing the Jews into the sea – no one would have ever heard of the "Palestinian people". Israel would have become part of Jordan, Syria and Egypt.

    March 9, 2014 at 10:36 pm |
  13. john

    In Muslim countries like Malaysia, non-Muslims are not allowed to own land. So, why should Muslim Palestinians be allowed to have any rights in a Jewish State like Israel?

    March 10, 2014 at 12:59 am |
    • Thinker23

      Well, Israelis are CIVILIZED human beings and Israel is DEMOCRATIC society.

      March 10, 2014 at 7:53 am |
      • john

        I agree with that. While Israelis are civilized, Palestinian Muslims are certainly not.

        March 10, 2014 at 12:39 pm |
  14. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    I bet our COVERT Islamist Mr.Fareed Zakaria will NEVER EVER get an audience with Netanyahu given his VIRULENT support for NOT only the Palestinians but also COVERTLY for the radicals in their midst. I am sure he must have made several attempts to get him on his CNN-FZ show!

    This guy will never stop until those radical Palestinians complete the second holocaust of the Jewish people, and punish America for its support for Israel, and our War on (Islamic) Terror.

    I keep writing about this man Mr.Zakaria, b'coz of the audience he commands and his immense ability to SUGARCOAT his stories & MISLEAD GULLIBLE Americans. Everyone of his articles/interviews is cloaked in a language that OUTWARDLY sounds fair & balanced, often with patriotic fervor (while addressing issues closest to Americans.

    Thankfully, increasingly more & more Americans are seeing through Mr.Zakaria's double talk, and his sugar coated POISON LACED words.

    March 10, 2014 at 8:23 am |
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