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happening in israel

Israel's Parliament to consider bill demoting Arabic from official language status

A bill that Israel's Parliament is about to consider would leave the country with just one national language, Hebrew, downgrading Arabic to having a "special status in the state."

The bill is sponsored by a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, Avi Dichter, and has been deliberated in committee for four years. Lawmakers have approved the law's wording, which states that the right to self-determination in Israel "is unique to the Jewish people," The Guardian reports. If the bill becomes law and Arabic has special status in Israel, Arabic speakers will "have the right to language-accessible state services."

Opposition politicians and academics say the bill, which has to pass several stages in parliament and could be challenged in court, is discriminatory. Ayman Odeh of the Joint List, which represents Arab-Israeli parties, told The Guardian the bill is a "declaration of war" on Israel's Arab citizens, adding: "Discrimination has received a legal stamp. The danger in this law is that it establishes two classes of citizen — Jewish and Arab."