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Israeli minister plans bill to anchor Zionism as ‘crucial value’ in policy-making

The initiative aims to put into practice the 2018 Nation-State Law.

Jews dance with Israeli flags at the Western Wall on the eve of Jerusalem Day, May 9, 2021. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Jews dance with Israeli flags at the Western Wall on the eve of Jerusalem Day, May 9, 2021. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Yitzhak Wasserlauf, Israel’s minister for the development of the periphery, the Negev and the Galilee, announced on Wednesday planned legislation that would enshrine Zionism as a “guiding and crucial value” in the determination of government policy.

He said the measure would be voted on when the Cabinet convenes Sunday, although Hebrew-language media reported that the text was still being finalized.

“We will continue to wave the flag of Zionism for settlement and security,” Wasserlauf, a member of the Otzma Yehudit Party said, adding that the legislation would “give preference to IDF soldiers and veterans of the army, strengthen the Jewish nation’s bond to its land and strengthen the Negev, the Galilee and Judea and Samaria.”

The overriding aim of the initiative is to put into practice the 2018 Nation-State Law, Wasserlauf explained.

The Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People was approved in July 2018, and states: “The State of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, in which it fulfills its natural, religious and historic right to self-determination.” The law adds that “the fulfillment of the right of national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”

Accordingly, the law enshrined the state’s Jewish symbols and designated Jerusalem as its capital. It designated Hebrew as the country’s official language, with Arabic maintaining a special status to be used for the provision of state services to Arabic speakers. The law also set the Hebrew lunar calendar as the country’s official calendar, and officially recognized Independence Day and other Jewish holidays, events and memorial days.

Explanatory notes make clear that the law’s goal was “to enshrine in basic legislation the identity of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, as well as adding a series of instructions to its constitutional framework dealing with the country’s fundamental characteristics as a Jewish state.”

The law neither grants nor detracts from individual rights based on ethnicity or nationality, but became controversial due to its clear emphasis on the Jewishness of the state.

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