Israeli lawmakers vote today to make Arabic classes compulsory for students
Israeli lawmakers voted today to make Arabic classes compulsory for students from the age of six, in a move backers hoped would help improve ties between Israeli Jews and Arabs.
The vote came amid increasing tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, with a wave of deadly attacks on Israelis and clashes at protests in the occupied territories.
Israels Parliament, the Knesset, voted unanimously in favour of the bill in first reading today. It will now be studied in committee before returning to parliament for a second vote.
Both Arabic and Hebrew are official languages of Israel, but while the vast majority of Israeli Arabs speak Hebrew, Arabic is not widely spoken among the Jewish population.