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Israeli cabinet approves 'Jewish state bill'

JACK GUEZ , AFP I Israeli right-wing protesters wave the Israeli flag on July 3, 2014 (archive photo).

Israel’s cabinet has approved a contentious bill that officially defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

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The bill still needs to be passed in parliament to become a law, but Sunday’s vote looks to further inflame tensions with Arab Israelis and Palestinians. It could also shake up Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government due to the fierce opposition of two of his more centrist partners.

The bill calls for recognizing Israel’s Jewish character, institutionalizing Jewish law as an inspiration for legislation, and delisting Arabic as an official language. Opponents say the bill undermines Israel’s democratic character, and rights groups have called it racist.

“If you enshrine the Jewish character of Israel into law, that automatically excludes a significant part of the population, both Arabs and Druze, many of whom serve in the Israeli military,” said FRANCE 24’s Israel correspondent Gallagher Fenwick.

FRANCE 24's Israel correspondent Gallagher Fenwick

“The devil is in the details. Will the final bill talk about equality for all of Israel’s citizens? Where will the democratic nature of the state fall into this bill?”

Israeli Arabs, who make up about 20 percent of Israel’s population, strongly oppose the bill.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)
 

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