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Knesset approves controversial 'Nationality Bill' for final vote

July 18, 2018 3:53 P.M. (Updated: July 27, 2018 3:46 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli Knesset approved the controversial "Nationality Bill" on Wednesday morning for a second and third reading.

The nationality bill proposal, initiated by MK Avi Dichter of the Likud, a right-wing political party, among others, seeks to manifest into law the status of the State of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

The second and third reading votes in the Knesset is expected to take place later throughout the day on Wednesday.

Eight Knesset members, all of the Likud party, voted in favor of the proposed bill, while seven members opposed it.

The vote was followed by commotion in the Knesset, shouting matches erupted when MK Tibi was speaking in Arabic, while MKs from the Likud responded that "Arabs have 21 countries while the Jews only have one."

MK Tibi said "I announce with shock and sorrow the death of democracy. The funeral will take place today in the plenum.”

The most controversial part of the bill was within Part A of article 7, which grants all residents of the state the right to take action to preserve their culture, heritage, language and identity.

Part B of the section allows the exclusion of citizens from cities and towns based on their nationality or religion.

Critics of the proposed bill raised concerns that this section will permit the exclusion of various populations, based on nationality or religion, and allow the illegal establishment of Jewish settlements and communities only.

The amended wording that was approved says that "the state considers the development of Jewish settlements a national value and will act in order to encourage and promote the foundation and establishment of such settlement."

After the first reading, according to the state of Israel, the establishment of Jewish only settlements is not discriminatory.

The bill includes legally preserving Israel's "democratic" character, its state symbols (national anthem, flag, icon), Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Hebrew as the official language and the right of return for Diaspora Jewry.

Regarding the Arabic language, it will receive a special status as Israel's second official language, but the law would not require making state services accessible in Arabic.

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