Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pushed back against comments made by coalition allies over the weekend regarding the role of religious law in the State of Israel, saying that the country would not become a theocracy.
“The State of Israel will not be a state based on Jewish law,” Netanyahu tweeted Monday.
The tweet was directed at comments by MK Bezalel Smotrich (United Right), the chairman of the National Union faction who has pressed Netanyahu to appoint him Justice Minister.
“We want the justice portfolio, because we want to return the Torah to its foundation,” Smotrich said Sunday.
MK Yair Lapid (Blue and White) was quick to respond, writing on Twitter, “No, we will not allow that to happen. There will not be a halakhic state here.”
Smotrich tweeted in response, “Yair, my brother, fear stems from ignorance. It will not hurt you to come to Mercaz Harav for a little bit, study a little bit and stop being so afraid. I’m saving you a seat next to me. ”
Smotrich’s ally, MK Rafi Peretz, who chairs the United Right party, gave a nuanced response Monday to Smotrich’s comments, saying “Jewish law” would “slowly…find its place” in the State of Israel.
“I very much believe in Jewish law, it’s very broad and very respecting. I agree with Supreme Court justice Menachem Elon’s system, in which Jewish law is used any time we don’t have a direct ruling. Slowly, slowly, Jewish law will find its place, and I’m very happy about that.
“I’m not going to tell the country how to live. The Torah’s law is very unique and balanced, and whenever the time for Jewish law comes, it comes. I respect the place the nation of Israel is currently in, I respect the place Israeli law occupies, and I want to move together with it.”