[JURIST] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [BBC profile] on Sunday gave his approval to a controversial bill that would make Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people. A ministerial debate is to occur on Sunday as well, during which the members will discuss whether the bill can codify Israel’s definition as a Jewish state in the country’s Basic Laws [text], as well as whether the bill can put Israel’s democracy below its Judaism and strip Arabic from its status as the official language. The bill was first introduced in 2011 by Ze’ev Elkin [official profile] and Avi Dichter [official profile]. Netanyahu had previously proposed his own version of this legislation in May. He stated [Reuters report] on Sunday that it was time for the country’s courts “to recognize the aspect of our being the nation state of the Jewish people.”
Israel has been in the news recently due to a considerable uptick in violence in the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict [HRW backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. In October the UN Human Rights Committee urged Israel [JURIST report] to investigate alleged violations committed by its forces during the recent wars in Gaza to ensure justice. In September Human Rights watch accused [JURIST report] the Israeli military of committing war crimes over the summer by attacking schools where hundreds of displaced Palestinians sought shelter. Also in September the Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center announced [JURIST report] that they have asked the International Criminal Court office of the prosecutor to open an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.