European Interest

Israel courts controversy with ‘nation-state bill’

Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0
The Knesset building, Jerusalem, Israel.

Non-Jewish citizens in Israel may be denied equal rights under a new controversial bill tabled in Jerusalem’s parliament.

It’s the so-called “nation-state bill” and its aimed at boosting Israel’s Jewish character. It could be voted into law as soon as next week.

As reported by The Washington Post, the draft law was proposed by members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party and supported by much of his right-wing coalition. The bill clarifies in about a dozen points Israel’s purpose as “a national home for the Jewish people” and pinpoints its national symbols.

One of the most controversial clauses in the bill is Clause 7B. It has been condemned as anti-democratic and racist by opposition lawmakers, members of the Arab community and human rights groups. It has also drawn criticism from some aligned with the Israeli leadership.

Even Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has joined critics calling for the removal of the clause, arguing that could be used to discriminate against any number of religious or ethnic minority groups.

The European Union has also been lobbying Israeli lawmakers, especially coalition members, to vote against the draft law.

Emanuele Giaufret, the EU ambassador to Israel, reportedly told Israeli lawmakers that the bill would “place Israel outside the bounds of the accepted norms of democratic countries”.

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