For some seven years, efforts have been underway to advance the Nationality Bill. This week, the Knesset plenum passed the bill in its first reading in a 64-50 vote. The bill now goes back to committee where it is prepared to continue advancing and voted into law.
According to the bill, anchors the status of the State of Israel as the Nation of the Jewish People, the symbols of the State, Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the Hebrew language as the official language, but the Arabic language will be preserved in a special status.
In addition, the bill anchors the 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 Independence Day, the Jewish holidays and the days of remembrance in the Basic Law.
The explanatory note reads: “The purpose of this Basic Law is to anchor in the Basic Law the identity of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and to add to the constitutional system a series of provisions dealing with the basic characteristics of the State as a Jewish state. Additional elements in the character of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in the spirit of the principles of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel. ”
MK (Likud) Avi Dichter, the leader of the law, attacked those who opposed him and said: “Israel’s national character will never change! The opponents simply did not read the law and are persuaded to believe that the law violates their rights as individuals and as citizens of Israel.”
So why the bill? Why now? Dichter explained: “We anchor this in a Basic Law in order to pass on a message to our neighbors: This fact will never change, and every demand from us must begin with recognition of our country and its national character. The Jewish people to a state of all its citizens.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)