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Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Senior Israeli officials have promised Trump administration officials the controversial "Jewish Nation State" law passed two weeks ago by the Israeli Knesset will not lead to discrimination against any minority groups based on race, religion or gender, a source with direct knowledge tells me.

Why it matters: Senior U.S. officials asked senior officials in the Israeli Prime Minister's office for clarification over the law, which is mostly symbolic but highly offensive to Israel's Arab citizens, who see it as another step by the government to prevent them from being treated equally. In the medium and long-term, it could be used as a legal basis for discrimination against non-Jewish citizens in Israel.

The Israeli Prime Minister's office confirmed the issue was raised during a meeting between Netanyahu's chief of staff, Yoav Horowitz, and U.S. ambassador David Friedman. Netanyahu's office added that the issue was discussed as part of an update on domestic issues and there was no criticism or request for clarification from the U.S. side.

  • One of the clauses in the law which raised questions among U.S. officials had to do with "Jewish settlement". According to this clause, "The state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation." The Trump administration was unsure what the practical meaning of this clause might be, and whether it would lead to discrimination against minority groups.
  • At this stage, the U.S. accepts the clarifications from Netanyahu's office. Nevertheless the U.S. is following the protests in Israel against the bill, and criticism about it in the Jewish community in America. One of the critics of the law was Alan Dershowitz, who is perceived as being close to President Trump. Dershowitz spoke publicly against the law in an interview to I24 news channel and said it gives ammunition to Israel's enemies.

The Trump administration discussed the law with Israel in private without issuing any public statement. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert dodged questions about the law last week.

"We hesitate to respond - or to answer questions about other country's legislation, much like we don't comment on pending legislation. We are certainly aware of that new law. I'd have to refer you to the Government of Israel for the specifics of that law and their position on that. But I can tell as a general matter, and as it pertains to this, that we believe in equality of all persons before the law."
— Nauert

Since the law passed there has been widespread protest against it among the Druze minority in Israel, which serves in the Israeli Defense Forces, unlike most other elements of the Arab community in Israel.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
4 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Fatal stabbing of British MP David Amess declared a terrorist incident

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Authorities have declared the death of David Amess a terrorist incident, hours after the Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K. was fatally stabbed while meeting with local constituents in a church in eastern England on Friday.

The big picture: The Metropolitan Police has found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."

Biden: DOJ should prosecute those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas

President Biden speaks with reporters at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that the Justice Department should prosecute those who defy subpoenas from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: The president's remarks come one day after Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon failed to show up for a deposition before the committee.