Knesset passes bill distinguishing between Muslim and Christian Arabs

Ha’aretz: The Knesset (of Israel) passed a controversial bill into law that distinguishes between Muslim and Christian Arab citizens for the first time and increases the involvement of Christians in Israeli society. The bill, which passed its second and third readings, was sponsored by coalition chairman MK Yariv Levin (Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu). Critics slammed the law as an effort to “divide and conquer” Israel’s Arab population (…).“This is an important historic move that can balance Israel and bring us closer to the Christians, and I am careful not to call them Arabs, because they’re not Arabs.” He added that Christiansare our natural allies, a counter-balance against the Muslims who want to destroy the state from within.”(…) Meretz MK Issawi Freij added “We are essentially in a situation where they are trying to define the state by religions, and here they are trying to say that there’s a difference between Muslim Arabs and Christian Arabs.” (…)During the last debate two weeks ago, Balad chairman MK Jamal Zahalka criticized Levin. “Arab rights don’t interest Yariv Levin,” he said. “There’s no specific Christian or Druze employment problem, only a problem of the general Arab population. Levin is interested in cruelly dividing the Arab public, which is oppressed as it is. We will not be his lackeys.” (…)Levin added:“We and the Christians have a lot in common. They’re our natural allies, a counterweight to the Muslims that want to destroy the country from within. On the other hand, there’s a message here. We will use an iron hand and demonstrate zero tolerance of Arabs who tend to identify with the terror of the Palestinian state.”

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