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January 9, 2014 11:40 am

Israeli Lawmaker Pushes for Recognition of Christian Nationality

avatar by JNS.org

Yariv Levin. Photo: Wikimedia commons.

JNS.org An Israeli legislator is pushing for the Israeli government to recognize Christians as a new nationality.

Likud MK Yariv Levin, who serves as coalition whip, has proposed a series of bills to recognize Israeli- Christian Arabs as a separate nationality from Muslim Arabs.

“My legislation will award separate representation and a separate frame of reference to the Christian public, distinguishing them from Muslim Arabs,” Levin told Maariv.

“This is an important, historic step that could introduce balance to the State of Israel, and connect us [Jews] with the Christians,” he added. “I make sure not to refer to them as Arabs, because they’re not Arabs.”

According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, there are roughly 161,000 Christians living in Israel. Nearly 80 percent of them are classified as Arab.

However, there has been a growing movement within the Israeli-Arab Christian community to separate themselves from the Arab community and align more closely with the Jewish state. Bishara Shylan, a merchant seaman from Nazareth, has been organizing a new Israeli Christian political party called B’nei Habrit. Meanwhile, Greek Orthodox Father Gabriel Nadaf has been outspoken in encouraging Christian participation in the Israeli army.

“Christians, who live here, need to donate and to contribute, not just in talk, but with action… We live here, and this country protects us, therefore we need to protect it,” Nadaf recently told JNS.org.

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