By Israel Hayom—
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday praised lawmakers for voting to pass controversial legislation known as the nation-state bill into law, saying the move was “a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the State of Israel.”
MKs voted on the bill following a heated, 11-hour debate that ran late into the night. The proposal, which enshrines Israel’s status as the national home of the Jewish people, passed its second and third parliamentary readings with a vote of 62 in favor and 55 against. Two MKs abstained.
Largely symbolic, the law stipulates that “Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it.”
It further cements the status of state symbols and Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the State of Israel, and strips Arabic of its designation as an official language alongside Hebrew, instead awarding it a “special status” that enables its continued use in Israeli institutions.
The law also sets “the development of Jewish settlements nationwide as a national priority.”
Addressing lawmakers after the vote, Netanyahu said, ”Today, 122 years after Herzl shared his vision, we have enshrined in law the basic principle of our existence.”
”Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people,” he continued. “A nation state that respects the individual rights of all its citizens, and in the Middle East, only Israel respects these right.”
”This is our state – the Jewish state. In recent years, some have cast doubt on this assertion; tried to undercut the core of our being,” Netanyahu continued. “Today we made it law. This is our nation, this is our language, this is our anthem, and this is our flag. Long live the State of Israel.”