Israel adopts divisive Jewish nation-state law


EU expresses concern over Israel's Jewish nation-state law

Israel's parliament is set to vote on a controversial piece of legislation that would define the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

The Israeli parliament earlier passed the "Jewish nation-state" law, with 62 votes in favor, 55 votes against and two abstained.

The bill downgrades Arabic from an official language to having "special status".

The law was also condemned by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, comprised of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. It's caused outrage among Palestinian-Israelis who say it's blatant discrimination.

Richard Silverstein said the "nation state" law would encourage the building of more settlements for Jews to the detriment of Palestinians.

Speaking to JNS in a state of euphoria, Ohana said that "70 years after the founding of the State of Israel, what the current Knesset, Israel's 20th, succeeded in passing, should have been passed in our first Knesset". What does it mean for Jewish Israelis living in the West Bank, who in a walking, talking manifestation of apartheid, carry with them Israeli civilian law while Palestinians in the exact same physical space are subject to Israeli military law?

They also sought "a fair resolution to the Palestinian refugee issue", urged "a shared Jerusalem between Israelis and Palestinians with free access to the holy sites" and suggested more interreligious dialogue.

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A Knesset usher removes Jamal Zahalka, an Israeli Arab member of the Knesset representing the Balad party, who was protesting against the passage of the bill. Indeed, the ruckus over the brand-new law obscures the reality that there's not actually much new about it at all.

Early drafts of the legislation went further in what critics at home and overseas saw as discrimination towards Palestinian citizens of Israel, who have long said they are treated as second-class citizens.

"I think this is racist legislation by a radical right-wing government that is creating radical laws and is planting the seeds to create an apartheid state", said physician Bassam Bisharah, 71.

This new constitutional law is a black eye on Israel's democratic character and will have uncertain implications for equality in Israel.

Condemning the law, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin criticized what he called "this racist move that amounts to erasing the Palestinian people from their homeland physically and legally".

Given the draconian nature of the bill, it is hardly surprising that it has invited widespread opprobrium, including from Qatar's Foreign Ministry which has expressed strong condemnation.

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