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Israeli Cabinet Declares Country Nation-State of Jewish People

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during in his Cabinet meeting in his office in Jerusalem, Nov. 23, 2014.

The Israeli Cabinet has approved a contentious legislative proposal declaring Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

A divided Cabinet approved the measure Sunday, but it still must be approved by parliament to become law. The bill calls for recognizing Israel's Jewish character and would institutionalize Jewish law, while removing Arabic as an official language.

Critics say the legislation would undermine the democratic character of Israel, where Arabs comprise about 20 percent of the population. They have strongly opposed the bill.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu favors the measure. He says it would "uphold the individual rights of all of Israel's citizens," but that only Jews would have the right of self-determination in the country.

He said only Jews would have the right to immigrate to the country, which he described as their "one and only state."

Material for this report came from AP, AFP, and Reuters.