Israel passes Jewish nation-state law, strips Arabic of official language status
Tel Aviv, July 19: Israel, which was boosted by the decision of the US and some other countries to shift their embassies to Jerusalem, on Thursday (July 19) passed a strong law saying only the Jews have their right of self-determination in the country, sparking a new controversy in the region.
According to Reuters, the 120-member parliament of the West Asian country passed the "nation state" law with 62 votes in its favour and 55 against. Two voters abstained from voting. Some Arab lawmakers vehemently opposed the move and even tore apart papers after the voting, the Reuters report added.
Prime Minister Bajnamin Netanyahu, whose administration strongly dealt with Palestinian protesters earlier this year and also escalated confrontation with Iran after the US scuttled the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, welcomed the move saying: "This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel," the Reuters report added. The voting in the Knesset took place after months of political deliberation.
The 'nation-state' law was passed exactly seven decades since the birth of Israel and it says: "Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it", the Reuters report added.
The bill was ended Arabic's status as an official language alongside Hebrew and gave it a "special status" which allowed its continuation in Israel's institutions, the report added.
Israel is home to 1.8 million Arabs, which is around 20 per cent of its population of 9 million.
One Arab lawmaker termed it as a "death of democracy", according to the Reuters report.