Israeli ministerial committee approves much-debated ‘Nationality Law’

 

(JNS.org) Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation unanimously approved a new version of the “Nationality Law” Sunday, four years after the much-debated bill was originally proposed.

The Israeli flag at the Western Wall. Credit: Hynek Moravec via Wikimedia Commons.

The legislation would preserve the notion that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people, stipulating that all Israeli law must be understood based upon this principle.

“The Nationality Law is critical in a time like this, when elements from within and without are trying to reject the Jewish people’s right to a national home in its country and the recognition of the state of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people,” said Member of Knesset Avi Dichter (Likud), who initially proposed the legislation, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

The bill details the symbols of the state such as the national anthem and flag; the capital of Jerusalem; the official language of Hebrew; the right of return to Israel for diaspora Jews; Jewish settlement of the land; Israeli relations with the diaspora; the Hebrew calendar; and holy sites.

The legislation will proceed to a preliminary reading in the Knesset and will then return to the Ministerial Committee for further discussion. Opponents of the bill say it discriminates against minorities in Israel such as Arab Israelis, as it downgrades Arabic from being an official language to having “a special status in the state,” meaning its speakers have “the right to language-accessible state services.” 

Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) is expected to raise objections to some aspects of the bill. 

Posted on May 7, 2017 .