Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed – or rather engaged in a shouting match with his political foes in the Knesset (parliament) on Wednesday – over the contentious “Nationality Law” legislation set for a vote on Sunday. Brought to the plenum by the petition mechanism, Netanyahu’s presence at the raucous session seemed to do little to answer questions the public might have for either those supporting or opposing the measure. In an indication of the bill’s divisiveness, both the president and attorney general have come out in opposition, each declaring it to be redundant and provocative. The bill would codify Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” – a status many insist is both obvious and well-established within the state’s basic laws which stand in lieu of a constitution. Detractors argue that while the measure enforces the “Jewish state” side, it dilutes the democratic side, formalizing discrimination against the non-Jewish population. They argue that in practical terms it presents a provocation that is unwelcome at a time of heightened tension and growing nationalistic violence by the Arab population. Parallel to the bill at hand is one in particular that would give authorities broad powers in dealing with violent demonstrators and terrorists that some believe go beyond democratic norms. On Wednesday, Interior Minister Gilad Erdan announced that he is deporting the widow of one of the assailants in last week’s attack on a Jerusalem synagogue that left 5 dead. She will lose her east Jerusalem residency, be deported to the Palestinian Territories and lose the benefits she receives from the state of Israel including health care.
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