Photo Credit: PikiWiki
Inside Israel Today: Behind the Scenes at the Knesset
Behind the Scenes at the Knesset

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to bring a final version of the so-called “Nationality Law” to a vote next week, in which the Hebrew language will be the sole official language of the State of Israel, and the Arabic language will be given a special status regulated by separate legislation, according to the Hebrew-language Ynet news site.

Netanyahu told members of the coalition government that the goal is to bring the law to the Knesset for approval next week, saying, “We have to reach agreements…. This law is important to us, just as there are laws that are important to you, and I respect and respect them.”

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Members of the Knesset have been asked not to leave for vacation until the end of next week — the final week of the session — in order to ensure there will be a full vote on the measure.

“The wording is very simple, it speaks of the fact that Arabic is the second official language and the manner in which it will be used will be determined by law,” Likud Minister Yariv Levin told Ynet.

“There is an additional clause that explicitly states there will be no harm to the status of the Arabic language,” he said. “So this is a storm in a glass of water.”

Hebrew, he underscored, will remain the country’s official language. “After 70 years we certainly have an expectation that all Israeli citizens know Hebrew at least on the basic level of reading a street name, and it’s time we went in that direction, that’s the way it should be.”

Far-left Meretz chairman MK Tamar Zandberg called on the chairman of the centrist Kulanu party, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, and his party members not to support the national law, saying that “the nationality law is a racist and unnecessary law… That is not why you came to politics. I call on you not to cooperate with this madness and to block the enactment of the national law. It’s in your hands, do not take on another black stain in the history book.”

The proposed national law of MK Avi Dichter and a group of additional Knesset members anchors the status of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people; a Jewish and democratic state, the symbols of the state, Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, with the Hebrew language as the official language and the Arabic language as having special status.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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