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Israel govt to debate 'Jewish State' bill on Sunday

An bill is being debated in Israel today which plans to define Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and recognise Hebrew as the official state language
Israeli Justice Minister and chief negotiator with the Palestinians Tzipi Livni addresses (AFP)
Israel's Ministerial Committee on Legislation is set to debate a controversial bill on Sunday that aims to define Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, Israeli radio reported Sunday.
 
The bill, sponsored by Likud lawmaker chairman Ze’ev Elkin, would recognize Hebrew as the official language in Israel, while Arabic will be given special status. 
 
Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post said that the bill is likely to be backed by a majority of the committee's ministers. However, sources close to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said she would do her utmost to prevent the advancement of the bill to the Knesset (parliament).
 
Israel's proclamation as a Jewish state has been a point of contention at the latest round of US-mediated peace talks with the Palestinians.
 
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly expressed his refusal to compromise the longstanding Palestinian stance against recognising Israel as a Jewish state.
 
Palestinians fear that identifying Israel as such will cancel the right of return of Palestinian refugees or the right of compensation to those affected by the creation of Israel.
 
Earlier this year, Arab foreign ministers reiterated their refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, going on to blame Israel for undermining the peace process.
 
Peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators collapsed in April over Israel's refusal to release a fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners despite earlier pledges to do so.