Knesset to vote on 'Nationality Law'

Revised version of bill officially defining Israel as a Jewish State will be voted on by the Knesset.

Tzvi Lev ,

Minister Yariv Levin
Minister Yariv Levin
Hadas Parush / Flash 90

A revised version of the Nationality Law, which defines Israel as a Jewish State, will be voted on by the Knesset after Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) changed the wording of the bill in order to satisfy coalition partners.

The law legislates Israel's status as the national home of the Jewish people and emphasizes that Hebrew is the official language of the state and has a "special status". The law also states that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

"The nationality law is one of the most important laws that the Knesset has ever dealt with and we intend to bring it to a vote in the next Knesset," Levin stressed.

The Knesset had approved the bill in May 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.

A special ministerial committee made up of Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud), Justice Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), Economy Minister Eli Cohen (Kulanu) and MK Avi Dichter (Likud) recently completed most of its draft on the Basic Law: Israel as the State for the Jewish People, but two issues have remained contentious - the definition of Arabic, and whether its democratic nature will be equal to its definition as Jewish state.

In the current proposal, the Arabic language would maintain its status as an official language of the State of Israel.

The committee also decided that in order to honor the Druze community whose sons serve in the IDF, the Knesset will also pass a special law that will define the state's treatment of the Druze community as separate from the Arab community.

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.