'Jewish State' Law Up for Approval

The bill seeks to enshrine Israel's status as the nation-state of the Jewish people; will make Hebrew only official language of the state.

Cynthia Blank,

MK Ze'ev Elkin
MK Ze'ev Elkin
Flash 90

The controversial 'Jewish State Law' will be brought before the Ministerial Committee on Legislation for approval Sunday.

The law, which has been frozen for some time, is now being promoted by MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud), with the support of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. 

The bill, opposed both by Yesh Atid and Hatnua, was transferred by Elkin to a special committee for formulation, after he concluded that the Committee was dragging its feet in drafting the proposal.

According to the bill, all Jewish school will teach Jewish history as well as Jewish tradition and heritage. Hebrew will be recognized as the only official language in Israel. Arabic, which as of now is considered an official language in Israel, will instead be given special status. 

The bill also declares that the State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, in which a Jew can exercise his desire for self-determination in accordance with his historical legacy. This right to exercise national self-determination will be provided to Jewish people only.

However, every resident, regardless of religion and nationality, will be entitled to preserve his or her heritage, culture and language.

The preamble to the bill states the drafters' belief in the need for such a law: "Despite the broad agreement among the Israeli public about the definition of Israel as a Jewish state, the characteristic of the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people was never enshrined in the Basic Laws of the State." 

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, when stating her opposition to the law in May, said: "I will continue to defend the values of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and will under no circumstance allow anyone to weaken its democratic values and to subordinate them to Jewish ones." 

However, according to Elkin: "This law's necessity is especially reinforced now, at a time when there are people who want to abolish the right of the Jewish people to a national home in their country, and who do not recognize Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people." 

"Anchoring the Jewish character of Israel into its basic laws will allow us to to establish a comprehensive and unanimous constitution in the future."




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