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On July 19th, 2018 the Israeli Knesset, which is the House of Representatives of the State of Israel and thus works as the legislative branch of the government, passed a bill known as “Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People”.

This legislation, which has the weight of a constitutional amendment,[1] officially defines Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people and asserts that “the realization of the right to national self-determination in Israel is unique to the Jewish people,” that a “united Jerusalem” is the capital of Israel and that Hebrew is the only country’s official language, excluding Arabic.

Another clause says that “the state sees the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.” Finally, the law defines the flag, the menorah, the “Hatikva” anthem, the Hebrew calendar, Independence Day and other Jewish holidays as national symbols.[2]

The law was approved with a vote of 62 to 55, with two abstentions in the 120-seat parliament.[3] The bill is now one of more than a dozen Basic Laws that together serve as the country’s Constitution and can be amended only by a supermajority in the Knesset. These basic laws legally supersede the Declaration of Independence and, unlike regular laws, have never been overturned by Israel’s Supreme Court.[4]

 

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[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/19/world/middleeast/israel-law-jews-arabic.html?module=inline

[2] https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israel-passes-controversial-nation-state-bill-1.6291048

[3]https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/israel-approves-controversial-jewish-nationality-law-1.3570017

[4] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/19/world/middleeast/israel-law-jews-arabic.html?module=inline

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