Daily Israel Report

Govt. Set to Discuss 'Jewish National Homeland' Law

A new law codifies the status of the State of Israel as the National Homeland of the Jewish People.
By Yaakov Levi
First Publish: 6/5/2014, 12:33 PM

Jew holding Israeli flag in land of Israel
Jew holding Israeli flag in land of Israel
Flash 90

The Ministerial Law Committee is set to examine a new proposed Basic Law that will codify the status of the State of Israel as the National Home of the Jewish People. The law is being sponsored by MKs Ayelet Shaked, Yariv Levin, and Robert Elituv. The discussion in the Committee could come as soon as next Sunday, depending on scheduling.

According to the law, the State of Israel “is the National Home of the Jewish People because it allows the Jewish people historic and cultural self-determination. This self-determination in the State of Israel is the exclusive right of the Jewish people. The Land of Israel is the historic birthplace of the Jewish people and the place where the State of Israel was established and exists.”

The law describes Israel's political system as a democracy, and describes the flag of Israel and the national anthem, Hatikvah, as “symbols of the State.” Hebrew, the law states, is the official language of the State, while Arabic is granted a “special status.” The law also incorporates the Law of Return, saying that it is the right of any Jew anywhere to settle in the State, and to be provided with resources to do so.

Israel, according to the law, has an obligation to assist Jewish communities around the world physically, socially, and spiritually, and has a special obligation to protect Jewish culture at home and around the world.With that, the law states, Israel “will work to ensure that all residents are able to preserve their culture, language, and identity, regardless of religion or national origin.”

Hebrew law, as codified over the past 66 years in state court decisions, provides the guiding legal principles for the State, according to the law. In the absence of clear precedents, courts will make decisions based on “the justice, peace, and righteousness of Jewish tradition.” The law also ensures that members of all religions will have free access to their holy places.

Basic Laws effectively function as Israel's constitution. The country has never had a formal constitution, with the Declaration of Independence and the Basic Laws the reference documents for legal decisions.