In the midst of a yet another wave of violence, Israel is seeking a way to calm tensions and demonstrate a commitment to peace with a new piece of legislation.
On Sunday, Israel's Ministeriel Committee for Legislation proposed a bill that would make it mandatory to learn Arabic starting in first grade. MK Oren Hazan, a member of the Likud party, pleaded with lawmakers to put politics aside and pass the bill, arguing it could help foster greater understanding between Israelis and Palestinians.
The bill passed a preliminary vote in the Knesset on Wednesday, with unanimous support. It will now go through committee evaluations before returning to parliament for a second vote.
"I have no doubt that when the Jewish population will understand Arabic, the way the Arab public understands Hebrew, we will see better days," Hazan said.
In the last month, 64 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank. Israeli authorities have cited the numerous stabbings and terrorist attacks in Jerusalem as a reason for the escalating death toll.
"In these days, when terror is on the rise and coexistence is undermined, it's important to lower the flames among the nation's citizens, and there is no better way to do that than by understanding each other's language, to understand the culture and mentality of 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel and hundreds of millions of Arabic-speakers in the Middle East," Hazan said.