Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a "defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the annals of the state of Israel" when the Knesset enacted earlier this month a basic law (having constitutional status in Israel) making the right of national self-determination "unique to the Jewish people" and not applicable to all citizens. The law further enshrined religiously based discrimination, including a clause that points to priority for Jewish-only communities by declaring "the development of Jewish settlement as a national value" and promising "to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation."
The law has been a subject of much controversy in Israel. It passed the Knesset by the narrow margin of sixty-two to fifty-five. Opponents argue that it constitutes a step away from democracy. But this was one more item on the agenda of the ruling right-wing coalition that, given the rightward move in Israeli politics in recent years, the coalition was able to push through.