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Controversial Nationality Bill approved for second and third Knesset readings

The vote was taken from members of the House Committee and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, and passed 8-7.

Interim Justice Minister Amir Ohana (right) with Jewish Home parliament members Nissan Slomiansky (center) and Bezalel Smotrich at the joint Knesset and Constitution Committee meeting discussing the proposed National Law at the Knesset, July 16, 2018. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Interim Justice Minister Amir Ohana (right) with Jewish Home parliament members Nissan Slomiansky (center) and Bezalel Smotrich at the joint Knesset and Constitution Committee meeting discussing the proposed National Law at the Knesset, July 16, 2018. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

Israel’s controversial nationality bill will move ahead for second and third readings in the Knesset, after receiving approval from a special Knesset committee.

The vote was taken from members of the House Committee and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, and passed in a vote of 8-7.

Proponents were Likud Knesset members Amir Ohana, Yoav Kisch, Avi Dichter and David Amsalem; Bayit Yehudi MK Nissan Slomiansky; Shas MK Michael Malchieli; Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer; and United Torah Judaism MK Uri Maklev.

Voting against were Joint List Knesset members Ahmad Tibi and Yousef Jabareen; Meretz MK Michal Rozin; Zionist Union MKs Yoel Hasson, Eitan Broshi and Merav Michaeli; and Yesh Atid MK Yael German.

The committee erupted in shouting following the meeting, with Tibi yelling in Arabic, and some right-wing MKs arguing that Arabs have 22 countries while the Jews have just one.

Tibi called the vote “the death of democracy,” while Dichter said the law was an opportunity to “decide in law whether Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.”

The legislation includes language enshrining Shabbat and Jewish holidays as official days of rest in the country, though allowing for non-Jews to determine their own rest days and holidays.

Contention over wording pertaining to the official allowance of the creation of Jewish-only towns threatened to derail the legislation, but was satisfactorily amended to say that “the state considers the development of Jewish settlement a national value and will act in order to encourage and promote the foundation and establishment of such settlement.”

Included in the legislation are Israel’s state symbols, the establishment of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Hebrew as Israel’s official language, and the right of return for Jews living in the Diaspora, as well as the utilization of democracy as Israel’s state democratic process.

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