TEL AVIV – Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation unanimously approved a “Nationality Law” Sunday, four years after the bill defining the country as a Jewish state was originally proposed.
The legislation enshrines the notion of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people and outlines what this means from a practical perspective.
“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.
MK Avi Dichter (Likud), who initially proposed the legislation, said the bill will counter attempts by the Palestinians to undermine the Jewish state.
“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 Dichter.
“The Palestinian aspiration to eliminate the Jewish people’s nation-state is no longer secret,” he 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 identity.”
The bill specifies the symbols of the state including the national anthem and flag, Jerusalem as the capital, the official language as Hebrew, the right of return to Israel for Jews around the world, Jewish settlement of the land, relations with the diaspora, the Hebrew calendar, and holy sites.
Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) is expected to raise objections to some of the bill’s articles.