Israeli Cabinet Committee Pushes Bill That Downgrades Arabic

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at government meeting

In another controversial clause, Arabic would be relegated from an official language to one with "special status", which would ensure its speakers the "right to accessible state services". In a speech at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Steinmeier added, "Only a two-state solution [giving Palestinians territory to form their own nation] will give Israel a future as a Jewish democratic state".

Israel's Ministerial Committee backed a proposed a bill that would not only define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, but would also recognize the right of each citizen to "preserve his culture, heritage, language and identity". This was the initial rationale for downgrading Arabic.

Hebrew is defined as the "national language" in the bill, which would become part of the country's so-called basic law, which is similar to a constitution, it said.

Critics, however, said that the bill is discriminatory to Israel's Palestinians and other minority populations.

"A Jewish nation-state bill is the right idea".

The acting head of the ministerial committee, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, said "Today I made a decision to put an end to the foot-dragging and to affirm the nation-state law in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation", Haaretz reported.

"For me it was very important, and you, Mr President, know my personal history with the State of Israel, my many visits here as foreign minister in good times and in bad times", Steinmeier said. "Discrimination has received a legal stamp".

Israel has greenlighted a national debate on a controversial bill that would anchor the apartheid state's status as exclusively a Jewish one, further discriminating against Arabs and setting up a further barrier to a peace process with Palestine.

However, Lapid posited that Dichter's version of the bill is "another round of hatred and fear, another attempt to divide and spoilt up this nation, an open insult to Arab citizens of Israel, the creation of another crisis between Jews on the question of religion and state, further harm to the judiciary and state institutions".

"I decided today to put an end to the foot-dragging and approve the Nationality Law at the Ministerial Committee for Legislation", MK Yariv Levin (Likud), who instructed the Knesset Ministerial Committee on Legislation to draft a government bill on the matter within two months, stated. "To be a free people in our land", said Dichter after the committee's vote. "The Palestinians no longer hide their goal of erasing the Jewish people's nation state".

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