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Israel parliament debates draft constitution

[JURIST] Members of the Knesset [official website], Israel's parliament, debated a draft national constitution at a special session Monday but came away sharply split. The Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee [official website] presented a 9,000 page report on CD containing various proposals for the Constitution, explanatory materials, and other supporting documents. Currently a series of Basic Laws [texts] provides the foundation for the state but there is no constitution proper [JVL backgrounder], in part because Israelis are split on whether to highlight the "Jewish" or "democratic" character of their dual national identity as described by Israel's Proclamation of Independence [text].

In debate Monday, politicians from the main Likud and Labor parties welcomed the draft but left and right-wing groups condemned it. A left-wing Meretz party representative said it gave insufficient protection to minorities, while a spokesman for the right-wing National Religious Party insisted it would destroy the "spirit and soul of Israel" by legitimizing the separation of church and state. The debate ended with the Knesset voting 30-19 to pass the issue on to the next session of the assembly, scheduled to meet after March elections. The Jerusalem Post has more.

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