Thursday, March 15, 2018

Controversial nation-state bill passes committee vote, heads to Knesset - Gideon Allon and Israel Hayom Staff

by Gideon Allon and Israel Hayom Staff 

Bill defining Israel as a "Jewish state with a democratic regime" rather than "Jewish and democratic state" passes committee by 9-7 vote

Likud MK Amir Ohana
Photo: Oren Ben Hakoon 

The special Knesset committee tasked with discussing the controversial nation-state bill approved its final draft on Tuesday by a vote of nine coalition MKs to seven opposition MKs.

The bill defines Israel as a "Jewish state with a democratic regime," rather than a "Jewish and democratic state." It requires the state to preserve the country's Jewish character and protect state symbols and sacred Jewish sites according to Jewish tradition. If it passes the Knesset and becomes law, it will become one of Israel's basic laws, which have been recognized by the courts as a de facto constitution.

Given the sensitive nature of the bill, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tasked a special committee of representatives from the Knesset's House Committee and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee to draft it.

Coalition officials were aiming to present the bill for a first hearing as soon as Wednesday, the last day before the current Knesset session recesses.

"This is the law for all laws, the most important in the history of the country," said committee chairman MK Amir Ohana (Likud).

Several significant provisions were removed from the new bill, including an article stipulating that the law would overrule all other legislation, and another stipulating that Hebrew law will serve as a source of inspiration for the courts in cases existing laws have yet to address.

The contentious legislation, introduced by Likud MK Avi Dichter, passed its preliminary reading last year.

"Over the past few weeks, I have teamed with [Tourism] Minister Yariv Levin and MK Amir Ohana, and with the leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu, to ensure the bill will pass the committee's vote ahead of its first reading," Dichter told Israel Hayom Monday.

He stressed that the bill does not undermine the rights of minorities in Israel.

Gideon Allon and Israel Hayom Staff


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