(JTA) — A Knesset committee approved a bill mandating Israeli schools to teach Arabic starting in the first grade.
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday approved the measure, which was introduced by Likud lawmaker Oren Hazan, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett supports the bill, which will be put to a preliminary Knesset vote on Wednesday.
“In these days, when terror is on the rise and coexistence is undermined, it’s important to lower the flames among the nation’s citizens, and there is no better way to do that than by understanding each other’s language, to understand the culture and mentality of 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel and hundreds of millions of Arabic speakers in the Middle East,” Hazan said, according to the Post.
“I have no doubt that when the Jewish population will understand Arabic the way the Arab public understands Hebrew, we will see better days.”
Arabic is the second official language of Israel. All government documents and messages, as well as road signs and food labels, are required to be translated into Arabic.