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‘Jewish nation state’ bill passes first of three votes in Knesset

Image of Israeli parliament Knesset in session [Itzik Edri/Wikipedia]
The Israeli Knesset [File photo]

A controversial “Jewish nation state” bill passed its first reading in the Knesset late yesterday night, reported The Times of Israel.

The vote was carried with the support of 64 lawmakers compared to 50 against. The bill still requires two further readings before becoming law, but there are reports that the process will now pause due to disagreements within the coalition about the precise contents of the bill.

The “Jewish nation state” bill enshrines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people”, and would become a Basic Law “which, like a constitution, guide Israel’s legal system and are more difficult to repeal than regular laws”.

According to the language of the government-backed proposal, while every individual has the right “to preserve his or her culture, heritage, language and identity,” the right to realise self-determination “is unique to the Jewish people”.

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The bill also allows for the establishment of Jewish-only communities, though in practice, these already exist thanks to the role of residential admission committees in rural communities.

According to Haaretz, “the parties in the ruling coalition agreed to support the bill only for the first round of votes in the Knesset, due to the opposition of some of the parties to the current version.”

Thus, based on “an agreement reached by the coalition, the present version of the bill will be shelved after the Knesset vote Monday, and will presumably not be put to a second and a third vote in the current Knesset session”.

“Nevertheless,” the paper noted, the “first vote represents a significant advance for the bill.”

An unnamed senior Likud figure said: “Even though there’s currently no agreement that would enable the bill’s approval in a second and third vote, its approval in the first vote will allow the coalition to advance it in the next Knesset session, starting from the place it stopped in this session.”

“We believe an appropriate situation will be created in the current government that will make it possible to submit the bill to us for final approval despite the current opposition to it.”

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