Israel has just approved the Jewish nation-state law which allows Jews to have self-determination in Israel, and moves The Arabic language to a lower status. Critics warn the bill is downgrading the social position of all minorities in Israel.
The bill was passed on Thursday morning (July 19th) by the Parliament. Led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the law passed with 62-55 backing, with two ballots abstaining. He claimed, “This is an important moment in the history of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel.”
The head of the Arab Joint List, Ayman Odeh, strongly opposed the law. He pulled out a black flag and kept waving it during his speech to protest against the implications of the law.
“This is an evil law. Our state has declared that it does not want us here. We will always be second-class citizens.”
Israelis opposed to the bill after the announcement came out. They considered that this would have allowed the establishment of “separate communities” within Israel and this would probably cause racial discrimination.
What does the law say?
The political authority is looking for a better alternative to the “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
However, the high birth-rate of Israeli Arabs in the State and the fact that the country’s Jewish status had never been enshrined in law before, made some politicians state that many of Israel’s founding principles are under threat and could even become obsolete in the future.
This legislation, called “The Basic Law”, defines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” and gives them only the right to exercise national self-determination: among it’s values in fact, there is the importance of “development of Jewish settlement as a national value”, though it is unclear whether this also alludes to settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Hebrew is now defined as the “state’s language”, demoting Arabic of it’s status of official language alongside Hebrew after decades since Israel’s declaration of Independence, but recognizing its “special status”. As a consequence, this law risks causing further segregation of the Arab large minority in Israel, who have already felt discriminated against.