Netanyahu orders coalition to fast-track Nationality Law

Prime Minister demands that bill defining Israel as a Jewish State pass final reading before end of Knesset's summer session.

Tzvi Lev,

Israeli flags at the Western Wall in Jerusalem
Israeli flags at the Western Wall in Jerusalem
Flash 90

Prime Minister ordered coalition party heads to fast-track a bill defining Israel as a Jewish State in order to enable it to pass its final reading before the end of the Knesset's summer session.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, who has been tasked by Netanyahu to ensure the bill's passage, said that he will find a formula acceptable to all the various governing parties and to have the final draft ready to be voted on by the Knesset by next week.

"The Nationality law is one of the most important laws ever dealt with by the Knesset. It expresses the deepest foundations of Zionism and the foundations upon which the State of Israel was built," said Levin.

The Knesset had approved the bill's first reading back in 2017 despite opposition from the Kulanu faction, which demanded that an amendment instructing courts to rule according to Jewish civil law in issues which Israeli law does not address be removed from the final version.

While Israel self-identifies as a Jewish State, it's Jewish character has never been anchored into law. The bill enshrines the status of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in its homeland as a unique right for the Jewish people, the symbols of the state, Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the Hebrew language as the official language.

In addition, the proposal anchors Israel's connection with Diaspora Jewry, and establishes the Hebrew calendar as the state's official calendar and the commemoration of Israel's Independence Day, the Jewish holidays, and the days of remembrance in the Basic Law.

The Israeli government has been attempting to pass the 'Nationality Law' for years. In 2015, Prime Minister Netanyahu shelved a similar iteration of the bill after then-Justice Minister Livni vehemently opposed the bill and threatened a coalition crisis.




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