Israel approves contentious 'Jewish nation state ' law - angering Arabs

21 July, 2018, 14:00 | Author: Angel Logan
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Lawmakers approved the bill in its second and third readings overnight, with 62 voting in favor, 55 against and two abstaining, after hours of debate.

"First, the measure downgrades Arabic from its longstanding status as one of Israel's official languages to one that has 'special status, ' the AJC said".

The Bill reads: "Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it".

The bill defines Jerusalem as the capital and describes the flag.

"It is a decisive moment in the history of the state of Israel that inscribes in stone our language, our anthem and our flag", Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the vote on the bill, backed by his right-wing government.

Palestinian members of the Knesset have condemned the bill.

In addition, she said that the US administration's blind bias in favor of Israel and its total disdain for worldwide law have emboldened Israel to persist with such unlawful and immoral policies.

T'ruah, the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, said in a statement that the law "endangers Israeli democracy, legalizes discrimination against 20 percent of Israeli citizens, threatens religious pluralism and threatens the very future of Israel".

Hanan Ashrawi in a statement on Thursday strongly denounced the Knesset's adoption of the "Jewish Nation-State" Bill, saying it gives license to apartheid, discrimination, ethnic cleansing, and sectarianism at the expense of the Palestinian people.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Knesset plenary session ahead of the vote on the National Law
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Knesset plenary session ahead of the vote on the National Law

In Brussels, a spokeswoman for European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini expressed concern at the move and said it would complicate a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

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.

Following the arguments, some clauses were dropped from the bill by Israel's President and Attorney General Reuven Rivlin, including a clause that would have enshrined in law the creation of Jewish-only communities.

"The state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment."

Critics say the new law will deepen a sense of alienation within the Arab minority.

"We will keep ensuring civil rights in Israel's democracy but the majority also has rights and the majority decides", he said.

Netanyahu has defended the law.

But the law fails to mention either equality or minority rights - both of which were integral parts of Israel's Declaration of Independence in 1948, which explicitly states that Israel "will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture".

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