Contentious bill defines Israel as Jewish nation-state

Source: Associated Press

BY Aron Heller

JERUSALEM (AP) — An Israeli parliamentary committee deliberated Monday on the final draft of a contentious legislation that would define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

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The government says the bill will merely enshrine into law the country’s existing character. But critics say it excludes the country’s Arab minority, which makes up about 20 percent of Israel’s population.

Israelis opposed to the bill, deeming it discriminatory, have taken to the streets to protest in large numbers on Saturday in the capital Tel Aviv. The country’s ceremonial president from the ruling Likud party, Reuven Rivlin, who rarely delves into domestic politics, warned against clauses that appeared to encourage segregation and the downgrading in status of the Arabic language.

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