In a rare move, the Knesset's legal adviser has called for a broad public and parliamentary debate on a bill that would make Israeli democracy subservient to the state's Jewish identity and no longer recognize Arabic as an official language.
On Thursday, legal adviser Eyal Yinon said that a wide debate was necessary because of the many implications of such a law, whose initiator, MK Avi Dichter (Kadima ), envisions as a new Basic Law. One-third of MKs, including most Kadima members, support the legislation.
The bill is part of a trend in the Knesset to alter the balance between Israel's Jewish and democratic values, Yinon said, speaking at the University of Haifa.
"Many MKs want to strengthen legislation of important values such as national strength and honor and Jewish identity, even at the expense of values and rights considered the core of the democratic regime such as freedom of expression, the right to equality and minority rights," he said.
"If the law is passed, at the top of constitutional priorities will be the principle of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and only under it will be the principle of a democratic state. And even then, it will be in a 'slim' formula that states 'the State of Israel will have a democratic regime,' as opposed to the State of Israel is a democratic state."
In his bill, Dichter wants to give the Arabic language "special status" instead of its current status as an official language. He also wants Jewish jurisprudence to serve as inspiration for new legislation.
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