A law that divides and discriminates

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

Israel adopts divisive Jewish nation-state law

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Thursday the Israeli parliament for its approval of the "Jewish nation-state" law, which considered Israel as the state of the Jewish people and Jerusalem as its capital.

The law passed early Thursday enshrines Israel for the first time as "the national home of the Jewish people" in its quasi-constitutional Basic Laws, setting Hebrew as the national language, while affording Arabic a lower "special" status.

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.

Early drafts had gone further in what critics at home and overseas saw as discrimination towards Arabs, who have long said they are treated in Israel as second-class citizens.

Lawmakers removed a clause allowing the establishment of "separate communities" that was criticized as racist, replacing it with a clause encouraging "Jewish settlement". It would also prejudice the entire Israel against anyone who is not a Jew, he added.

Relations between the United States and the Palestinian leadership have nosedived since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved the U.S. embassy there.

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. Ayman Odeh, head of the Arab Joint List, called it "the death of our democracy".

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"This is not a decision I expected from the Likud leadership", he said.

Legislators have buried article authorizing pure and hard creation of segregated cities for Jews under a declarative formula whereby state will merely encourage "a national value" such settlements.

Last month, the Knesset presidium rejected out of hand a counter-proposal to the Jewish Nation-State Law: the "State of All its Citizens" law.

"Israel's Nation State Bill is similar to provisions in many western democratic constitutions, which provide for an official language and national character that reflects the majority of the population. What's good for the United Kingdom and Spain, should also be good for Israel".

Basharat concluded by saying that, through the new legislation, Israel "has officially ended the peace process and given up on the possibility of reaching a political solution [with the Palestinians] based on global law".

Jewish News described the audience-led debate as "split clearly along generational lines as well as right and left - older people tending to back right-wing points of view, younger people siding with those on the left or those disaffected with the organised Jewish community".

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