JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Knesset committee approved a bill that would officially define Israel as a Jewish State.
The bill unanimously passed the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday. A similar bill was first proposed in 2011 and again in 2015.
The bill will go to the Knesset plenum for a preliminary vote; that vote is scheduled for Wednesday. Following the vote, it will be combined with a Justice Ministry version of the bill. The ministry has 60 days to draft its own version of the bill.
The so-called Nationality Law would create a Basic Law, similar to a Constitutional law, stating that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. Under such a Basic Law, Israeli law must be interpreted according to this principle.
The bill also would make Hebrew the country’s official language and designate Arabic as having special status, requiring all government services to be available also in Arabic.
It also addresses such issues as national symbols including the flag and the national anthem, as well as the right of return for Jews, holy sites and the Hebrew calendar. It also calls for the government to work to strengthen ties between Israel-Diaspora Jewry.