A bill proposing to define Israel as the Jewish people's nation state may become the focus of a new major Knesset debate.
Submitted by MK Avi Dichter last August, the bill aims to define Hebrew as Israel's official language and grant Arabic "special status." The bill also proposes formally defining the State's Jewish emblems such as the flag and national anthem.
Ahead of a debate on the matter in the Knesset's Legislative Affairs Committee, Hadash Chairman MK Mohammad Barakeh asked Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Knesset Legal Advisor Eyal Yinon to disqualify it.
MK Barakeh claimed the bill does not fit with Israel's definition as a democratic state and called for a public and parliamentary discourse on the implications the bill will have on Israel's constitutional status.
Legal advisor: Bill not racist
Rivlin replied that despite his own reservations there is nothing wrong with such bills, which he said have been proposed since the Knesset was founded. "I do not believe that we must prevent the submission (of such bills) as we should not prevent other bills aiming to change the State's character from being put forward."
Yinon stated that according to Knesset protocol the bill cannot be disqualified as it is not racist. "My position is that the bill does not negate Israel's existence as the state of theJewish people."
Dichter on his part, remains undaunted at the face of opposition from the Left. "Any intimidation attempt by various foundations suggesting this is an anti-democratic bill is destined to fail," he said.
"As the bill is partly based on existing laws, it cannot be seen as racist and any attempt to provoke a debate on racism is purely for intimidation proposes," he said.
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