'Jewish State Law' Vote Postponed - Again

Vote on controversial law postponed for at least one more week; PM to present his compromise bill before original draft advances in Knesset.

Tova Dvorin,

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

A Knesset plenum vote on the 'Jewish State Law' has been postponed yet again, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's advisor Nir Hefetz stated Saturday night - five days after the vote was postponed for a week due to controversy over the text of the proposal. 

Last week, a vote on the controversial set of laws was postponed from Wednesday, November 26 to December 3, on the request of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and several other MKs to find a compromise text to the set of bills after the laws sparked a coalition crisis. 

But the vote has been pushed off yet again, Hefetz stated to Channel 10 - this time, as Netanyahu readies his own version of the law, which will now be the only version presented at the plenary hearing. 

Two versions, two visions

The 'Jewish State Law' is comprised of two bills by three MKs: Ze'ev Elkin (Likud), Yariv Levin (Likud), and Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home). Both bills, which are similar in their principles, effectively raise the Jewish influence on the legal system, elevating it over the "democratic" elements of Israel's identity as a "democratic and Jewish state."

The proposal, in practice, would see Hebrew defined as the only official language and Arabic relegated to a language with "special status"; concretize the Jewish star and holidays as national symbols and holidays; and define Israel as a state which "endeavors to settle Jews within its borders" - leaving out Israeli Arabs, detractors claim. 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's amendments to the law would reduce its efficacy to make the Jewish elements of the law equal to - but not higher than - the "democratic" character of Israel, and emphasizes that "the State will allow anyone in Israel, regardless of religion, race, or nationality, to preserve their culture, heritage, and identity."

It also leaves out the definition of Hebrew as the official language and the clause on Jews settling within its borders. 

Jewish State Law: Round 2

Netanyahu will draft the final version of his compromise to the original Jewish State Law on Sunday, Hefetz said, and present it to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation next Sunday (December 7). 

The new version essentially begins the process again entirely; if this version does not pass a Ministerial Committee for Legislation vote, it will not be cleared for its first reading in the Knesset, and will be stricken from the agenda. Three readings are needed for a bill to be ratified into law. 

Meanwhile, readings on the original text of the law have been postponed until Netanyahu's version has been presented, Channel 10 reports - a decision which some believe is a deliberate move to avoid the coalition dissolving and the possibility of early elections. 




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