Israeli parliament to vote on contentious Nation State bill

A general view shows the plenum during the swearing-in ceremony of the 20th Knesset, the new Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem March 31, 2015. (Reuters)
Updated 18 July 2018
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Israeli parliament to vote on contentious Nation State bill

  • The bill enshrines the country’s Jewish character into law
  • Critics say it marginalizes the country’s Arab citizens

JERUSALEM: Israel’s parliament is set to vote on a controversial piece of legislation that would define the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
A parliamentary committee has approved a final draft of the Nation State bill, paving the way for the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to vote on its passage into law Wednesday.
Israel’s government says the bill, which would have constitution-like standing, enshrines the country’s Jewish character into law, but critics say it marginalizes the country’s Arab citizens, which constitute around 20 percent of the population, and threatens Israeli democracy. One clause of the bill downgrades the Arabic language from official to “special” standing.
Lawmakers removed a clause allowing the establishment of “separate communities” that was criticized as racist, replacing it with a clause encouraging “Jewish settlement.”


Israel locks down Ramallah after two soldiers shot dead

Updated 50 min 46 sec ago
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Israel locks down Ramallah after two soldiers shot dead

  • The bloodshed began when Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinians
  • Hours later, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded a third

AMMAN: Israel was accused on Thursday of humiliating Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by placing Ramallah on virtual lockdown amid a 24-hour outbreak of violence in which five people died.

The bloodshed began when Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinians suspected of earlier attacks. Salah Barghouti, 29, was accused of shooting seven Israelis on Sunday at a bus station near the Ofra settlement. Ashraf Naalwa, 23, shot two Israelis dead in the Barkan industrial zone settlement in October.

Hours later, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded a third when he opened fire at the Ofra bus station.

Israeli forces chased the gunman into Ramallah, where they set up road blocks, launched raids and placed the town under virtual siege. In the hunt for the gunman, a Palestinian was shot dead in Al-Bireh neighborhood of Ramallah.

Abbas Zaki, a leading Fatah official, told Arab News Palestinian frustration was being fueled by Israel. “They barged into Ramallah in violation of existing agreements and came very close to the home of President Abbas.

“What more do people need to see to let them give up on a process when Israelis are willing to humiliate in such a way the father of Palestinian peace?”

Abbas himself condemned the anti-Israeli attacks but blamed Israeli raids as a potential cause.

“The climate created by the policy of repeated intrusions into the cities, the provocations against the sovereignty of the president and the lack of a horizon for peace are what led to this unacceptable violence that we condemn and reject,” he said.