Published: Tue, May 16, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Israeli Cabinet committee pushes bill that downgrades Arabic

"The bill establishes the fact that the State of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish People in our historic homeland", he said at a Likud faction meeting.

Defining Israel as the "national home of the Jewish people" has also raised concerns among rights activists and others anxious over discrimination and attempts to further mix religion and state.

It would join the so-called 11 Basic Laws, which is similar to a constitution, and guides Israel's legal system. In a speech at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Steinmeier added, "Only a two-state solution [giving Palestinians territory to form their own nation] will give Israel a future as a Jewish democratic state".

The bill also says that "the state may allow a community, including members of the same religion or national origin, to have separate communal settlements".

In addition, it downgrades the Arabic language from an official to a non-official language of the state, albeit with "special status".

Germany's president said Tuesday that it is "truly urgent" to start moving toward a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The bill has passed the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and will now be considered before the general body.

The bill was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, but it still needs to pass three rounds of voting in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, to become law, Xinhua news agency reported.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List coalition of mostly Palestinian lawmakers, said the law was an example of "the tyranny of the majority" and demoted Arabs to being "second-class citizens".

The legislation is created to be enshrined in Israel's Basic Law, regarded as the closest approximation in Israel to a constitution.

Erel Margalit, a contender for the leadership of the centrist Zionist Union party, called the bill "reminiscent of dark periods" in history.

Zehava Gal-On, chairwoman of the left-wing Meretz party, has criticized the proposed legislation.

The bill is a watered-down version of past proposals for a "nation-state" law that were abandoned amid criticism that they would prioritize Israel's Jewish identity over its democratic values.

He said that the bill counters Palestinian efforts to deny Jewish rights to Israel. Dichter argued that none of Israel's 11 Basic Laws deals with the identity or definition of the Israeli state.

The prospect of Israel becoming an officially Jewish state has returned to the nation's agenda, in what Palestinians have described as an obstacle to peace.

"The result of the Jewish State bill is clear".

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