BEIRUT

Middle East

Netanyahu to define Israel as Jewish state in law

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech during a ceremony for the laying of the foundation stone of the mount Herzl Memorial Hall for soldiers who have fallen in Israel's wars on April 30, 2014 in Jerusalem. AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday he would seek to enact a law to define Israel as a Jewish state, a step certain to raise opposition from Arab citizens who make up a fifth of the population.

"I will promote a Basic Law that will define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people," Netanyahu said in a speech in Tel Aviv that alluded to Palestinian rejection of his demand to recognise Israel as such In recent peace talks.

In lieu of a formal constitution, a series of Basic Laws adopted by parliament since Israel's founding in 1948 define governmental, legislative and judicial powers, protect civil rights and codify Jerusalem's internationally disputed status as the country's capital.

 

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