Coalition Crisis Averted When Arabic Customer-Service Bill Pulled

MK David Bitan (Likud), the coalition chairman. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A coalition crisis was averted after a law to improve the status of Arabic in Israel was pulled by its sponsors, after it lost key support among coalition MKs. The law, proposed by United Arab List MKs Ahmed Tibi and Osama Sa’adi, would have required all government offices and businesses to provide service in Arabic for those who require it. The law had been supported by coalition chairman MK David Bitan and other Likud MKs, despite a lack of government approval of the law.

Channel Ten reported that right-wing MKs in the Likud, as well as MKs from Jewish Home, opposed the bill and threatened a coalition crisis if the bill was not taken off the agenda. Among those opposed was Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, who was upset at the fact that Bitan was supporting the bill without the approval of the Ministerial Law Committee. If Bitan wanted coalition support for the bill, it needed to be submitted to that body, he said.

Jewish Home, too, said it was concerned over the procedural issues. According to the Knesset, bills that are not approved by the Committee cannot be brought to a Knesset vote immediately, as Bitan was attempting to do. In addition, a Jewish Home source said, the government could not support the bill, as it violated the Nationality Bill, which sets Hebrew as the official language of Israel.