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Israeli legislators strip Arabic of official language status

The Nationality Law, adopted this week, strips Arabic of its status as Israel’s second official language.

Following a protracted debate into the early hours of July 19, Israel’s Knesset gave final approval to the Nationality Law, a controversial bill that anchors Israel’s status as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Following the bill’s passage, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “One-hundred twenty-two years after [Theodor] Herzl made his vision known, with this law we determined the founding principle of our existence. Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and respects the rights of all of its citizens. … In the Middle East, only Israel respects [rights].” Netanyahu went on to say, “Today we made it into law: This is the country, the language, the anthem and flag.”

During the stormy debate, Knesset members of the Arab Joint List party tore up copies of the bill and were expelled from the plenary.

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