Vote on Israel’s nation-state law postponed


The Knesset debate on the “nation-state” bill passed by the Israeli cabinet yesterday has been pushed back to next week.

The controversial bill, which has been widely attacked as racist, is an attempt to formally define Israel as the Jewish nation-state.

The bill in its current form delists Arabic as Israel's official second language. Finance Minister Yair Lapid called it “a bill that places the Jewish character of the state above the democratic”.

However, the bill approved on Sunday contained a note recommending that it be subsumed into a watered-down version created by Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Mr Netanyahu’s larger, 14-point version does not delist Arabic. One of its key passages reads: “The State of Israel is a democratic state, established on the foundations of liberty, justice and peace envisioned by the prophets of Israel, and which fulfills the personal rights of all its citizens, under law.”

The possible softening of the bill did not quell opposition, however.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein told Haaretz: "Certain aspects of the proposals in the bill would substantially change the principle of constitutional law as anchored in the Proclamation of Independence and the Basic Laws of the Knesset." The attorney general added these facets of the bill would lead to a degradation of the "democratic character of the state".

The Israel Democracy Institute said: “The version of the nation-state bill approved today is bad for everyone who holds the State of Israel dear. The MKs must come to their senses and scrap this bill even before it comes to the Knesset on Wednesday."

The IDI added: This is a bill that… doesn’t allow true equal rights for the minorities who live among us and its real purpose is to dictate to the courts how to rule.”

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