Published: Sat, July 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Israele: Knesset approves controversial nation-state bill

Israele: Knesset approves controversial nation-state bill

Israel's parliament approved early Thursday a controversial piece of legislation that defines the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people and downgrades the Arabic language's status.

The approval of the controversial bill is another bid to cement the occupation of Palestinian territories and wriggle out from recognizing Palestinian rights, the statement added.

The bill, backed by the right-wing government, passed through parliament after months of political argument and some Arab lawmakers shouted and ripped up their papers after the vote. It also states that the "whole and united" Jerusalem is its capital, BBC reported. He argues that the Palestinians' refusal to do so is the biggest obstacle to peace, saying it demonstrates that the Palestinians do not genuinely recognise Israel's right to exist. Arabic will have "special" status but will no longer be an official language.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat tweeted from a Palestine Liberation Organization account that the law "officially legalizes apartheid and legally defines Israel as an apartheid system".

The pan-Arab body warned that the bill will ignite discrimination and more attacks against Palestinians within the green line. "Long live the State of Israel!"

Ever since its inception in 1947, Israel was always seen as a Jewish homeland.

Barry Trachtenberg
Barry Trachtenberg

However some clauses were dropped following objections by Israel's president and attorney-general, including a clause that would have enshrined in law the creation of Jewish-only communities.

Critics say the new law will deepen a sense of alienation within the Arab minority. "Passage of this bill was vital to ensure the continuity of the connection between the Jewish people and the State of Israel, and publicly pronouncing that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people is an essential legislative act that is long overdue".

Turning a blind eye to occupied Palestine's 1.8 million Arab population, the law asserts that "the realization of the right to national self-determination in Israel is unique to the Jewish people", which number around 9 million. Adalah, an Arab rights NGO, said the law was an attempt to advance "ethnic superiority by promoting racist policies".

The fledgling state consolidated its control over Palestinian lands on the back of an ethnic cleansing campaign where hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes.

It described the law in a statement as "colonial, anti-democratic, racist in content and has the features of apartheid".

"Now that this law has been passed by the Knesset, the State of Israel has an obligation to ensure that, in practice, this Basic Law is not used to discriminate against minorities, particularly its Arab citizens, and that the state maintains its commitment to improve relations between Jews in Israel and those around the world", Greenblatt said.

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