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Return to the ghetto: Israel’s Nation State Law would make early Zionists turn in their graves

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This week, Israel’s “Nation State” law has caused outrage. In his usual way, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has steamrolled the bill forwards saying he hopes to see it pass before the Knesset enters its summer recess next week. A final version of the bill was discussed by Knesset members on Tuesday, with Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin, expressing his opposition to its contents in a rare political intervention. Israel’s Attorney General, Avichai Mendelblit, warned Netanyahu of “possible implications for Israel in the international arena” if the bill was passed “in its current form”, prompting the Likud party to consider diluting its most controversial aspects.

An article in Haaretz details the specifics of the proposed law. It explains that the move comes after Israeli politicians – specifically those on the right – have been pushing since 2013 for legislation that would enshrine Israel’s Jewish character in law. The proposed “Nation State” law would become a Basic Law, effectively giving it “constitutional-like status”, Those on the left have decried the law as undemocratic, saying it legitimises preferential treatment of Jews and will further institutionalise discrimination against Israel’s non-Jewish population, estimated to constitute 2.2 million of the country’s 8.8 million-strong population as of 2018.

No aspect of the “Nation State” bill has proved more controversial than the clause providing legal justification for Jewish-only towns. The clause in question reads: “The state can allow a community composed of people of the same faith or nationality to maintain an exclusive community,”........

© Middle East Monitor