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Israel’s ‘Jewish nation-state law’ to have first Knesset vote next month

November 10, 2017 at 11:15 am

The proposed “Jewish Nation-State Law” will head for its first vote in the Knesset next month, after a compromise was reached over one of its controversial elements, Haaretz reported.

The new version of the bill “includes changes in the order of the sections of the law, to clarify that all legislation in Israel will be interpreted according to both democratic values and the country’s Jewish nature – without giving one priority over the other.”

The previous wording “would have required the courts to give precedence to the Jewish character of Israel in cases where it conflicts with democratic values.”

The chair of the special committee preparing the law for its first reading, MK Amir Ohana (Likud), “decided on the change after Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party made it clear that it would not support the bill in its previous form”.

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According to Ohana, “there is no drama” in the new compromise; “the Basic Law starts by saying clearly that the State of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and theirs only”, he said.

The compromise will now allow the Knesset to hold its first vote on the bill on 12 December, where it is expected to pass the preliminary reading.

There are still potential hurdles to the bill passing in its final form, including the absence of any reference to the term ‘equality’ in the law. One possibility is that, instead of equality, the bill will say the state is “obligated to protecting the rights of all its residents”.