Knesset speaker refuses to sign lawmaker’s resignation letter written in Arabic


Knesset Chairman Yuli Edelstein speaking at a ceremony marking Remembrance Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror, at “Yad LeBanim” in Jerusalem, April 30, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The speaker of Israel’s Knesset refused to sign the resignation letter of an Arab-Israeli lawmaker because it was written in Arabic.

Yuli Edelstein sent the resignation letter of Arab Joint List lawmaker Wael Younis to the Knesset’s translation department on Wednesday and then signed the document.

The speaker’s signature is needed on such letters to make the resignation valid.

“No man will sign a document he can’t read. I respect the Arabic language, but it’s a fundamental matter,” Edelstein wrote on Twitter after the Israeli media reported his refusal.

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Younis is resigning his position in Knesset as part of a rotation agreement among the parties that make up the Joint List.

His decision to resign in Arabic comes from the perceived downgrading of the status of the language to one of “special status” in the nation-state law passed last month. Other Arab Knesset lawmakers have threatened to resign in Arabic.