Gal Gadot hits out at Netanyahu over 'Jewish people' comment

"It is not a matter of right or left, Arabs or Jews, secular or religious. It is a matter of dialogue, of dialogue for peace," the actress said.
Gal Gadot was crowned Miss Israel in 2004. She later dropped out of law school to become an actress.Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images file
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By F. Brinley Bruton and Yael Factor

"Wonder Woman" star Gal Gadot waded into the debate over what it means to be Israeli after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country is the homeland "only of the Jewish people."

"Love thy neighbor," the Israeli actress said Sunday on Instagram, where she has 28.3 million followers.

"It is not a matter of right or left, Arabs or Jews, secular or religious," she added. "It is a matter of dialogue, of dialogue for peace, and of our tolerance for each other. It is our responsibility to shine hope and light for a better future for our children."

Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu addressed "slightly confused people" on Instagram after model and actor Rotem Sela — a friend of Gadot's — defended the rights of Arab Israelis. The minority makes up around 20 percent of the country's population.

"Israel is not a state for all its citizens. According to the nation-state law that we passed, Israel is the state of the Jewish people — and belongs to them alone," Netanyahu wrote.

Israel's approval of a "nation-state" law, which declares that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country and downgrades Arabic as an official language, dismayed the country's minorities last year. Supporters said the law was mainly a symbolic gesture, while Netanyahu and others in his Likud party said it was necessary to counter Palestinian challenges to Jewish self-determination.

Sela had denounced Netanyahu's frequent talking point that his political rivals will form a government with Arab political parties after the April 9 elections.

Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud and allies face a stiff challenge from the centrist Blue and White party, led by former armed forces chief Benny Gantz.

In his Instagram post responding to Sela, Netanyahu added: “As you wrote, there's no problem with the Arab citizens of Israel — they have the same rights as us all and the Likud government has invested in the Arab sector more than any other government."

Gadot also described Sela as "an inspiration to us all."

On Monday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin weighed in on the issue, condemning recent "unacceptable discourse" about Arab citizens of Israel.

"There will be no second-class citizens and second-class voters," he said during a speech. "All of us will all be equal, all of us, Jews and Arabs, all citizens of Israel."

F. Brinley Bruton

F. Brinley Bruton is senior editor in charge of NBC News Digital’s London bureau. 

Yael Factor

Yael Factor is a producer based in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed.