Controversial Jewish nation-state bill passes into law

The law passed after a stormy debate full of theatrics that stretched more than eight hours.

July 19, 2018 02:53
2 minute read.

Knesset passes controversial Jewish nation-state bill into law, July 19, 2018 (Reuters)

Knesset passes controversial Jewish nation-state bill into law, July 19, 2018 (Reuters)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


The controversial Jewish nation-state bill became Israel's 14th Basic Law early Thursday morning after it passed into law in the Knesset plenum by a vote of 62 in favor, 55 against and two abstentions.

The law passed after a stormy debate full of theatrics that stretched more than eight hours.

Applauding the vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the law as "a defining moment in the history of Zionism and the history of the State of Israel.

"122 years after Herzl published his vision, we have stated by law the basic principle of our existence," Netanyahu said from the Knesset podium.

The head of the special committee that legislated the bill, MK Amir Ohana (Likud), told the plenum it could be the most important legislation in the history of the state. He said the bill had been discussed more than any of the basic laws that have been passed before.

The law's sponsor, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter, turned to Arab MKs in the final address before voting and told them: "We were here before you, and we will be here after you." But he said their rights as minorities would not be harmed by the law.

Joint List MKs condemned the legislation. Party leader Ayman Odeh waved a black flag on the Knesset podium and his faction colleague, MK Jamal Zahalka, ripped up the bill. 

"We are now seeing with shock the death of our democracy, which has been dying in recent years, and suffering from the racism that has hit a new peak with this bill," Joint List MK Ahmed Tibi said earlier in a meeting of Ohana's committee that legislated the bill and approved it by an 8 to 7 vote Wednesday morning along coalition and opposition lines.

The Jewish nation-state bill is a Basic Law with constitutional heft that declares Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. It anchors in law the state’s menorah emblem, Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, national holidays and the right of all Israeli residents to preserve their heritage without consideration of religion and nationality.

The two most controversial clauses in the bill were changed.

The Diaspora clause says, “The state will act in the Diaspora to maintain the connection between the state and the Jewish people.” The original version said that the connection would be maintained among “the Jewish people, wherever they are.”

A clause that could have permitted one religious group to bar another from living in their community was replaced with one saying that, “The state sees developing Jewish settlement as a national interest and will take steps to encourage, advance, and implement this interest.”

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Economic outlook.
July 16, 2019
Mercantile VP: Israel to exceed growth potential by 3.5%


Cookie Settings