Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein refused to sign an MK’s resignation letter on Wednesday because it was in Arabic.
Joint List MK Wael Younis’s resignation did not count until the speaker signed it. Edelstein gave the letter to the Knesset’s translation department, and signed the Hebrew version of the letter.
Edelstein said: “The Arab MKs tried to pull a stunt by giving me a letter in a language I don’t know. I respect the Arabic language, but I cannot sign a letter that I cannot read.”
One of the more controversial sections of the new Nation-State Law says that Hebrew is “the language of the state,” while Arabic has a “special status.” The previous legal situation was less clear, with many considering Arabic to be a second official language, though in practicality, it was used far less than Hebrew in an official capacity.
Younis called Edelstein’s decision “the practical translation of the article canceling the official status of the Arabic language in the Nation-State Law.
“It cannot be that the Knesset speaker refuses to sign my resignation letter just because it is written in Arabic,” he said. “Other parliaments in the world, like Canada... would have accepted the letter. I am determined to give in my resignation letter in Arabic, and the speaker must accept it.”
Younis’s resignation brought to an end an ongoing dispute within the parties making up the Joint List about their rotation agreement. Younis is from the Ta’al Party, and will be replaced by Nivin Abu Rahman of Balad.
Rahman will break the Knesset’s record for the number of female members, bringing the total up to 35. The 20th Knesset has broken its own record several times.