Knesset to Vote on Controversial “Jewish State Bill” Next Month

The Knesset, Israel’s parliament, is expected to advance the so-called “Jewish State Bill” – also referred to as the “Nationality” or “Nation-State Bill” – next month, amid ongoing controversy over the bill’s discrimination of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel. The bill declares that Israel is “the national home of the Jewish people,” and that “the right to realize self-determination in Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” It would also revoke Arabic’s status as an official state language, despite 20 percent of Israel’s citizens being Arab-Palestinians, and downgrade it to having “special status in the state.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had wanted to put the bill up for a vote in the Knesset last month. However, its details have remained controversial and further discussions would necessitate compromises on the bill’s scope. Hadash MK Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List, denounced the bill on social media in May as “crushing the rights of minorities.” “This Nationality Bill is the tyranny of the majority, turning us into second-class citizens, and this time making it legal,” Odeh said.

The rights organization Adalah has tallied at least 76 Israeli laws that already discriminate between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, not to mention the various rights that are denied to Palestinians in the occupied territory, who are ruled under Israeli military law.