MK Gadeer Kamal-Mreeh
MK Gadeer Kamal-MreehNoam Revkin Fenton/Flash90

The Knesset on Wednesday rejected a proposal to amend the Nationality Law, voting 53-21 against the change.

The amendment, proposed by Druze MK Gadeer Kamal-Mreeh (Yesh Atid-Telem), would have amended Section 1 to say that "the State of Israel is the home of and provides equal rights to every one of its citizens," and Section 4 to say, "the Arabic language is the country's second official language."

Currently, Section 4b of the law says that "Arabic has a special status. Use of the Arabic language in government offices or to government offices will be required by law."

Kamal-Mreeh's amendment would also have changed Section 7 to say that "everything is in the spirit of the principles of this Basic Law, and for the good of all its residents."

Most Blue and White MKs, including Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, and Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn, did not attend the vote. Joint Arab List MKs also did not attend the vote.

Calling the Nationality Law "the most racist law ever passed in Israel," Kamal-Mreeh claimed that "the Nationality Law is the death certificate for the democratic component. Don't leave us out just because of baseless hatred. Remember: You were strangers in the land of Egypt. There are moments when elected officials need to rise above the here and now."

After the proposal was rejected, Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid claimed: "That Gantz and Ashkenazi ran away from the Knesset in order not to vote on the Nationality Law isn't just annoying - it's sad."

Though the Nationality Law does not harm the Druze community or any minority individual in any way, many have been vocal about protesting it. At the same time, there have been Druze leaders who defended the law, pointing out that anti-Israel protests by Muslim Arabs prove the need for the law's existence.

Another Druze Israeli pointed out that "there are no Druze in the world who can claim a better and freer life than the Druze citizens of Israel," and "the Druze need Israel to be strong; otherwise, we disappear like the other minorities decimated by Islam."

"Doing what is right for the Jewish people is doing what is right for the Druze people," he added.

Following the law's passage, former Druze MK Ayoob Kara, who voted to pass the law, blamed the Joint Arab List for death threats he had received after voting for the law. "The Nationality Law does not turn us into second class citizens," he emphasized then, noting that it "in no way detracts from the individual rights guaranteed to all the citizens of Israel."