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Knesset committee advances final version of Israel’s ‘Jewish nation-state’ bill

An Israeli flag can be seen atop a Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on 26 July 2017. Over 100 settlers stormed the house and evicted the Palestinian family which legally owns it. [Mamoun Wazwaz /Anadolu Agency]
An Israeli flag can be seen atop a Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on 26 July 2017 [Mamoun Wazwaz /Anadolu Agency]

A controversial ‘Jewish nation-state’ bill was advanced by a key Knesset committee on Tuesday, in a race against time to have the new legislation pass its first plenum reading before the recess.

The bill, which does not mention democracy but does define Israel as a Jewish state, states that “the realization of national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people”.

Welcoming the progression of the law, Israeli minister Yariv Levin hailed it as “Zionism’s flagship bill…It will bring order, clarify what is taken for granted and put Israel back on the right path. A country that is different from all others in one way, that it is the nation-state of the Jewish people”.

According to Haaretz, the law is intended to “lay the groundwork” for the Supreme Court “to give preference to Israel’s Jewish character over its democratic values should the two conflict in the courts” (something that the court can, in fact, already do).

The law, which will have constitutional status as a Basic Law, “also includes a clause allowing the establishment of residential communities for Jews alone”, a clause which MK Yael German (Yesh Atid) told the committee “can be described with one word – apartheid”.

MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) also slammed the law as indicative of an “apartheid regime”, while his Joint List colleague MK Aida Touma-Sliman told the bill’s sponsors: “You are institutionalizing the apartheid regime in the most blatant way”.

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