The Israeli parliament Knesset adopted on Thursday, a law on the national Jewish character of the State of Israel. The controversial act was supported by 62 deputies with 55 opposed, and two abstained.
The law states that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people, where only the Jewish population has the right to national self-determination, Hebrew is the only official language of the state, Jerusalem is the capital of the country, and the development of Jewish settlements is a task of state importance.
Arabic from an official language alongside Hebrew received a “special status”, which will allow it to be used in public institutions in the future.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the adoption of the law:
“Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people that respects the individual rights of all its citizens. This is our state — the Jewish state.”
Knesset lawmakers of Arab origin condemned the law as racist and considered its adoption a “death of democracy.”
About 21 percent of Israel’s total population of 9 million are Arab citizens (1.9 million). Another 5 percent of the population consists of non-Arab Christians or other ethnic groups.