Israel passes Jewish state law, enshrining “national home of the Jewish people”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with cabinet ministers at the Knesset plenum on Jul 18, 2018. (photo: Hadas Parush / Flash90 )

After hours of furious debate, Knesset narrowly approve quasi-constitutional Basic Law, which critics say discriminates against Arabs and other minority communities.

By Raoul Wootliff | The Times of Israel | Jul 19, 2018

“I declare with astonishment and sorrow the death of democracy . . . The funeral will take place today in the plenum.”
— Knesset member Ahmad Tibi

The Knesset overnight Wednesday passed into law the contentious nation-state bill that for the first time enshrines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” in its quasi-constitutional Basic Laws.

Lawmakers approved the bill in its second and third readings overnight, with 62 voting in favor, 55 opposed and two abstaining, after hours of heated debate in the Knesset chamber.

Similar to a constitution, the Basic Laws underpin Israel’s legal system and are more difficult to repeal than regular laws. The nation-state bill, proponents say, puts Jewish values and democratic values on equal footing. Critics, however, say the law effectively discriminates against Israel’s Arabs and other minority communities.

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