Jul 19, 2018

Israel passes Jewish "nation state" bill

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the Knesset Plenary Hall session ahead of the vote on the National Law on July 18, 2018. Photo: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/AFP/Getty Images

Israel's parliament passed a controversial bill Thursday recognizing the country as the national and historical home of the Jewish people, granting Jews the "unique" right to "exercise national self-determination," reports The Times of Israel.

Why it matters: Israel's status as a Jewish state had not previously been enshrined in law. Among other things, the largely symbolic legislation reiterates that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and officially names Hebrew as the "state's language." The proposal generated passionate opposition in a country where 20.9% of the population identifies as Arab.

Axios contributor Barak Ravid explains:

  • The law was originally proposed more than 8 years ago when every few years Netanyahu raised it as part of an attempt to rally his right wing nationalist political base.
  • The law that passed is a diluted version of previous drafts which included a clause to legalize the formation of villages and small towns for Jews only, a clause which put Israel's Jewish identity above its democratic system, and a clause that would order the courts to make verdicts according to Jewish law.
  • The law that passed is mostly symbolic and will almost have no practical meaning. Nevertheless, it is highly offensive to Israel's Arab citizens, who see the law as another step by the government to sideline them and prevent them from being treated equally.

Go deeper

Biden formally secures Democratic presidential nomination

Joe Biden speaks at Delaware State University's student cente on June 5. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the formal Democratic presidential nominee on Friday evening, per AP.

The big picture: Biden has been the presumptive frontrunner to take on President Trump since Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in early April.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 6,724.516 — Total deaths: 394,018 — Total recoveries — 2,996,832Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,894,753 — Total deaths: 109,042 — Total recoveries: 491,706 — Total tested: 19,231,444Map.
  3. Public health: WHCA president says White House violated social-distancing guidelines to make reporters "a prop" — Jailing practices contribute to spread.
  4. Sports: How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar.
  5. Jobs: Better-than-expected jobs report boosts stock market.
  6. Media: The Athletic lays off 8% of staff, implements company-wide pay cut.

Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.