Israel passes controversial Jewish nation-state law

Israel passes controversial nation-state bill

In addition to codifying Israel's status as the nation-state of the Jewish people into Israel's Basic Laws, it also establishes Hebrew as its sole official language while giving Arabic special standing.

Late last night the Knesset passed the "Nation-State Law", a new "Basic Law" which forms Israel's de facto constitution.

About 1.8 million Arabs-primarily descendants of Palestinians who stayed on their land during and after the war of 1948-live in Israel, making up about 20 percent of the country's population.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Knesset plenary session ahead of the vote on the National Law, July 18, 2018.

"Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, which honours the individual rights of all its citizens", he said.

Kontorovich dismissed the "faux outrage" against the bill as "simply another attempt to single-out the Jewish state and hold her to a double standard".

They have equal rights under the law, but have long complained of being treated as second class citizens and say they face discrimination and worse provision of services such as education, health and housing.

"It's one more law, one more racist law", said Najib Hadad, 56, in Nazareth, the country's largest northern city whose residents are predominately Arab.

Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List, wrote on Twitter that the "tyranny" of the majority had squashed the rights of the minority.

Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said that such laws would not have passed were it not for the "silence of the global community" and the backing of the USA administration.

The passage of the law continues Israel's rightward shift in recent years amid frustration with failed peace agreements with the Palestinians and steady growth in settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

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"I really hope that we won't find the fine balance between a Jewish and democratic state to be hurt", he said, as cited by Haaretz.

PLO secretary-general Saeb Erekat said that the new law "aims at legitimizing Israel's institutional discrimination against its Arab Palestinian citizens".

The General Director of Adalah, Hassan Jabareen, said in a statement that the law "features key elements of apartheid, which is not only immoral but also absolutely prohibited under worldwide law".

Some Jewish groups have argued that the bill undercuts Zionism, alleging that the bill will ruin relations with Arabs.

"This is a sad and unnecessary day for Israeli democracy", said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

By emphasising Israel's Jewish nature, it is "reducing, not directly but indirectly, its democratic nature", Friedman told AFP. From my work across the Jewish community through the UK Task Force I saw how schools, charities and synagogue communities have grown in their understanding of and work with Israel's Arab citizens.

The law passed after the changing of a clause that would have allowed the state to "authorise a community composed of people having the same faith and nationality to maintain the exclusive character of that community".

Opposition parties even mocked this possibility by suggesting an amendment that would add the language "The objective of this Basic Law is to please the electorate on the right before elections" to the bill.

Rivlin, whose role as president is mainly symbolic, had made a rare intervention in politics earlier this month to raise alarm over the clause.

At the center of the controversy is the part of the law aimed at promoting the "establishment and consolidation" of Jewish settlements, which is being castigated by the opposition as a shorthand for segregation bordering on apartheid.

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