In response to Palestinian intransigence against recognizing the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, a new initiative is being advanced in the Knesset: Changing the official name of the state from “The State of Israel” to “Israel—the Jewish State”.

At the head of the initiative is the chairman of the Jewish Home faction MK Zevulun Orlev, who intends to advance the bill in the Knesset’s winter session that begins next week and to enlist support from within the coalition and the opposition for a process that is designed to “help the government attain international recognition of the state of Israel as the state of the Jewish people,” in his words.

The bill will establish the official Hebrew name for the state as “The State of Israel—The State of the Jewish People,” and in English, “Israel—The Jewish State.” Israel will also issue an official request to the UN to register under its new name. If it passes, the bill will entail a litany of changes to existing laws, such as the Symbol and Flag law, the Knesset Law, and others.

For example, the pledge of allegiance to the Knesset will take on some changes and instead of the phrase: “I pledge allegiance to the State of Israel,” every Knesset member will have to declare: “I pledge allegiance to the State of Israel—The State of the Jewish People.”

Every ambassador that submits a letter to the President will be required to submit it to the President of the Jewish State. Every agreement signed between Israel and another State or with the Palestinian Authority will be, explicitly or implicitly an agreement with “The Jewish State.”

“This has nothing to do with civil rights”

“When a peace agreement or any other agreement is signed, the other side will sign it with “The Prime Minister of Israel—The Jewish State,” and not simply with the Prime Minister of the State of Israel,” Orlev explains.

The current name of the state was set with its establishment at the behest of David Ben Gurion and it appears in the Declaration of Independence. Ben Gurion read that declaration aloud during a celebratory meeting of the National Council which took place on Friday, 5 Iyyar 5708 (May 14, 1948), in the Tel Aviv Museum on Rothschild Avenue.

At the climax of the event, Ben Gurion had announced: “We, the National Council, the representatives of the Jewish settlement in Israel and the Zionist Movement, have gathered on the day of the ending of the British Mandate over the Land of Israel, and in by virtue of our natural and historical rights, and on the basis of the decision of the United Nations, we hereby announce the establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel, that is the State of Israel.”

“The bill is actually the practical application of the Declaration of Independence in the spirit of the document,” explains Orlev. Concerning the expected opposition, mostly from the Arab Knesset members and of the Arab public to the bill, Orlev said, “Changing the name of the State of Israel to the Jewish State is a declaration about the character, the unique style and the meaning of the State of Israel.”

In his words, “It has no connection at all with civil rights. Full equality is guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence, but it is forbidden to blur the purpose of the State of Israel and its import as the Nation State of the Jewish People.”