JERUSALEM, May 7 (Xinhua) — Israel’s cabinet on Sunday voted in favor of the controversial “Nationality Bill,” which claims Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and cancels Arabic as a formal language.
The bill was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, but it still needs to pass three rounds of votes in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, to become law.
The bill, considered by its opponent as discriminatory and racist, call to evoke Arabic’s “official language” status and keep Hebrew as the only formal language in Israel.
It also claims Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people,” and holds that “the right to realize self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”
The bill was tabled by Avi Dichter, a lawmaker with the Likud ruling party and a former head of the Shin Bet security service.
Acting-committee chairman, Yariv Levin, said in a statement that “this is a basic law, which has the simple objective of safeguarding Israel’s status as the nation-state of the Jewish People.”
“I don’t understand why it hasn’t been made into law so far,” he added.
Arab and left-wing lawmakers oppose the bill, saying its approval would undermine the democratic character of Israel, where Arabs make up some 20 percent of the population.
Issawi Farij, a lawmaker with the liberal party of Meretz, denounced the new legislation as a “Marine Le Pen-style law.” Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon warned that the bill would be a “declaration of war” against Israel’s Arab minority and would “enshrine in law racist and discriminatory practices.”
Numerous researches have demonstrated that Arabs in Israel suffer lack of job opportunities and less government budget spending in many fields including in education, health, transportation, infrastructures, and housing.
Arab citizens of Israel are Palestinians who stayed put during the 1948 war and became citizens after the statehood of Israel.