Nationality Law passes first reading

Bill to enshrine Israel's Jewish character into law advances.

Tzvi Lev ,

Avi Dichter
Avi Dichter
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

A bill that would enshrine Israel's Jewish nature into law passed its first Knesset reading on Tuesday by a majority of 64-50.

The bill, which is sponsored by MK Avi Dichter (Likud), will now be sent to a special committee headed by fellow Likud MK Amir Ohana. The bill needs to pass its second and third readings in order to become 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 the right to preserve a heritage for all residents of Israel, regardless of religion or nationality. The bill 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 State of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people," said Dichter. "This is a clear fact. But despite everything, after 70 years, unfortunately, it is not clear to everyone and it is certainly is not anchored in any law in the State of Israel.

The bill has been seen as controversial, with opposition MKs contending that passing the law would weaken Israel's non-Jewish minorities. A similar bill in 2014 titled the 'Jewish State Law' failed amidst coalition wrangling.