Controversial

Israel Moves to Define Itself as Jewish

Israel’s cabinet on Sunday approved a bill to legally define the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people. The decision set off a stormy debate that could bring down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brittle coalition government. It followed weeks of deadly Arab-Jewish violence and was denounced by critics as damaging to the country’s democratic character and poorly timed. It now heads toward a full parliamentary vote Wednesday. Israel has always defined itself as the “Jewish state,” a term contained in the country’s declaration of independence in 1948. The new law seeks to codify that status as a “Basic Law,” Israel’s de facto constitution.