Ministerial Committee promotes contentious 'Nationality Law'
Four years after the bill was first proposed, Minister Yariv Levin boasts 'end to foot-dragging' as he advances the controversial legislation to officially define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people; bill to now go to Knesset for preliminary reading.
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation unanimously approved the 'Nationality Law' on Sunday, four years after the controversial legislation to officially define Israel as a Jewish state was first proposed.
The Nationality Law would enshrine as a Basic Law the concept that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. The legislation determines that all Israeli law must be interpreted according to this principle.
The legislation, which is considered by its opponents as discriminatory towards Arab Israelis, specifies some of the practical aspects of the State of Israel being the nation-state of the Jewish people. The bill addresses state symbols (national anthem, flag, icons), Jerusalem as the capital, Hebrew as the official language, the right of return for Jews, the ingathering of the exiles, Jewish settlement, relations with the Jewish Diaspora, the Hebrew calendar, and holy sites.
After the legislation will be raised to a vote in a preliminary reading in the Knesset, it will return to the committee for further discussion.
"I decided today to put an end to the foot-dragging and approve the Nationality Law at the Ministerial Committee for Legislation," said acting-committee chairman Yariv Levin (Likud).
"We've been waiting to discuss and make a decision on this legislation for too long. This is a basic law, which has the simple objective of safeguarding Israel's status as the nation-state of the Jewish People. I don't understand why it hasn't been made into law so far," Levin added.
He said the legislation will be promoted by the government in the current Knesset session.
The proposal could, however, encounter an obstacle in the form of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu), who is expected to raise objections to some of the legislation's articles.
The legislation was written with the help of legal experts and representatives from the different coalition parties.
"The Nationality Law is critical in a time like this, when elements from within and without are trying to reject the Jewish people's right to a national home in its country and the recognition of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people," said MK Avi Dicther (Likud), who first proposed the legislation.
"The Palestinian aspiration to eliminate the Jewish people's nation-state is no longer secret," Dichter added. "The State of Israel, which demands of its enemies to recognize it as the nation-state of the Jewish people and justifiably asks its supporters in the world to back this demand, needs to be able to declare in its highest legislative level that it proudly maintains this identify."
Eleven other members of Knesset are signatories to the proposal from the Likud, Bayit Yehudi, Kulanu and Yisrael Beytenu parties.