Debate tabled on bill naming Israel national homeland for Jews


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Knesset committee vote on a law to officially make Israel the nation-state of all Jews was postponed.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, head of the centrist Hatnua party, on Sunday postponed her ministerial committee for legislation’s vote on the bill known as the Nationality Law.

“The explosive situation that exists in the Arab sector at the moment has already led to violent clashes and casualties. A discussion on the Nationality Law at this time is irresponsible,” Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri said in requesting the delay of the vote during the committee meeting.

The bill calls Israel the national homeland of the Jewish people and would make Hebrew the official language, with Arabic having “special status.” It also calls Jewish law a basis for new legislation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who supports the bill, said after the committee meeting that he would submit the bill directly to the full Cabinet for discussion.

“The State of Israel is the national state of the Jewish People,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “This is a central issue which is important for the future of the Jewish People in the State of Israel.”

The statement came hours after Netanyahu had opened the Cabinet meeting by saying he would move forward on the bill, which was proposed by Zeev Elkin, a member of his Likud party.

Netanyahu acknowledged, however, that the bill “will yet undergo many changes and discussions, but we will make it clear that the State of Israel is the national state of the Jewish People, while providing for equal rights – and ensuring equal rights – for all its citizens.”


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