Knesset bill to require Arabic instruction unanimously passes first reading

Julie Wiener

(JTA) — The Knesset unanimously voted in favor of requiring Arabic instruction in all Israeli schools.

Approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation earlier this week, the bill, which would make Arabic classes compulsory starting in first grade, passed its first reading on Wednesday, AFP reported. It will be studied in committee before returning to parliament for a second vote.

Arabic, alongside Hebrew, has been an official language of the State of Israel since its founding in 1948. However, while most Arab Israelis are conversant in Hebrew, the majority of Jewish Israelis never learn Arabic.

Likud Knesset Member Oren Hazan introduced the bill in what he said was an effort to reach out to Arab Israelis.

“Language is a door to culture,” he told AFP. “I am looking reality in the eyes and I understand there is no possibility to walk to peace without understanding each other.”

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