Jerusalem (CNN) — Making no mention of the values of equality and democracy, Israel has passed into law a highly controversial bill that serves to define the nature of the state of Israel, with critics slamming it as the "nail in the coffin" of Israeli democracy.
The nation-state bill passed in its second and third readings following an hours-long debate in the Knesset, Israel's parliament. The law establishes Israel as the historic home of the Jewish people with a "united" Jerusalem as its capital and declares that the Jewish people "have an exclusive right to national self-determination" in Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had advocated for the nation-state bill, hailed its passage and called it a "defining moment" in Israel's history.
"We engraved in the stone of law our language, our anthem, and our flag. We have enshrined the fact that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people," Netanyahu said in a statement. "Long live the State of Israel!"
Though the law is fraught with controversy and highly symbolic, much of it has little practical impact. For example, section 2 establishes the name of the country as Israel and describes its flag in detail, while section 8 sets the Jewish calendar as the official state calendar.