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Israel declares itself a Jewish state

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Israel declares itself a Jewish state

Post Neon Knight on Sat 21 Jul - 16:05

Daily Mail, 20 Jul 2018:

Israel was accused of legalising apartheid yesterday as it passed a new ‘nation state’ law that defined the country as the home of the Jewish people. The controversial legislation made Hebrew the country’s national language and defined the establishment of Jewish communities as being in the national interest. It stripped Arabic of its status as an official language, and declared only Jews have the right of self-determination.

The law was a flagship measure of the most right-wing governing coalition in Israel’s 70-year history.

It sparked furious protests in the Parliament. Arab lawmakers and Palestinians called the law ‘racist’ and made them second-class citizens, with some shouting and ripped up copies of the bill while crying out ‘Apartheid’. Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Joint List of predominantly Arab parties, which holds 13 seats and is the third-largest bloc in Parliament, waved a black flag in protest. He said: ‘Today, I will have to tell my children ... that the state has declared that it does not want us here.’ In a statement issued later, he added: ‘[ The Knesset] has passed a law of Jewish supremacy and told us that we will always be second-class citizens.’ Ahmed Tibi, an Arab lawmaker, said after the vote: ‘I announce with shock and sorrow the death of democracy.’ Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, called the legislation a ‘ dangerous and racist law’. He said it ‘officially legalises apartheid and legally defines Israel as an apartheid system’.

The legislation passed by 62 votes to 55. Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised its passage as a ‘defining moment’. His government had pushed for the legislation to be approved before the parliament’s summer session ended.

The legislation speaks of Israel as the historic homeland of the Jews, and reiterates the status of Jerusalem under Israeli law, which defines the city as the ‘complete and united… capital of Israel’. Part of the city is claimed by Palestinians as the capital of a future state and the international community considers East Jerusalem occupied territory. The Arab community in Israel accounts for around 20 per cent of the population of nine million. Though they have equal rights in they have long complained they face discrimination, and critics fear the bill will alienate them further.

The law also stresses the importance of the ‘development of Jewish settlement as a national value’, leading to concerns this would allow for the creation of Jewish-only communities. Amir Fuchs of the Israel Democracy Institute told the Guardian: ‘That the state is allowed to create villages that will separate on the basis of race or religion or nationality — this is outrageous.’

The bill had been under discussion since it was first introduced in 2011 and had been amended multiple times in an effort to water it down.

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