(JNS.org) A bill that would allow the Israeli government to legally recognize Arab Christians as a separately national identity has advanced out of the committee phase and may be headed to the Knesset floor for a vote.
Specifically, the bill allows Arab Christians to identify solely as Christian, separate from the larger Arab community, which is mainly Muslim, and give them their own representation on the Advisory Committee for Equal Opportunity in the Employment Commission.
The bill also calls for more representatives from other minority and underrepresented groups such as Druze and Circassians, as well as haredi Jews, immigrants, soldiers, senior citizens, and women, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Likud MK Yariv Levin, who serves as coalition whip, along with several Israeli Christian leaders has been the main proponent of the bill, which has been heavily criticized by some Israeli Arabs and on the left for seeking to divide the Arab community.
Recently, at a committee hearing on the bill, Israeli Christian leader Shadi Halul of the Christian IDF Officers Forum, a group that promotes Christian recruitment and integration into the Israeli military, was threatened by Israeli Arab MK Haneen Zoabi. Responding to the criticism, Levin told the Jerusalem Post, “I don’t try to change the reality; the reality is there. There is a big difference between Christians and Muslims, and they deserve recognition and separate representation.”