Knesset Passes Bill Proclaiming Israel As Jewish Nation

Knesset Passes Bill Proclaiming Israel As Jewish Nation

Tibi and fellow Arab legislator Ayeda Touma-Souliman confronted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the vote, according to Haaretz, by yelling at him, "You passed an apartheid law, a racist law".

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. "I repeat, this is our state".

"Lately there are people who are trying to destabilise this and therefore destabilise the foundations of our existence and our rights", he added. Today we made it into law: "This is the country, the language, the anthem, and flag". This is our country. Around 1.8 million Arabs live in Israel, they are the descendents of the Palestinians who remained in what is today Israel after the 1948 "War of Independence".

Netanyahu brushed off all argument that the law prioritizes the rights of Jews at the expense of Arabs, touting the Jewish state as "the only democracy in the Middle East." .

The law details Israel's national symbols, designates Hebrew as the state's official language-downgrading Arabic to "special status"-and claims the "unified and complete" city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel".

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and his Right-wing coalition government supported the bill. Sixty-two MPs voted for the bill, with 55 against.

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

Lawmakers took turns to passionately express their views in a rowdy, hours-long debate in parliament overnight.

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"This is an evil law", he told lawmakers.

Amir Fuchs of the Israel Democracy Institute said the problem with the law was "what is missing". "While it might not have practical consequences, psychologically it is deeply damaging to the Arab minority", said Halevi, author of the best-selling book Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor. "It creates various avenues for segregation in land and housing and incentives based on the principle of "advancing Jewish settlement" both in civil life and in obtaining citizenship based on the law of return and in language and in cultural rights in the name of self-definition".

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"If there had been another paragraph that also gives full equality to all citizens of Israel, then I would have been a lot more relaxed", he said.

Eugene Kontorovich, worldwide law director at the Kohelet Policy Forum, a conservative Jerusalem think tank, defended the bill, arguing it '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'. Labour leader and incoming chairman of the Jewish Agency Isaac "Bougie" Herzog wrote that he "fully shares the grave concerns ... for the damage that this bill will cause to Israeli society and Israeli democracy".

He was speaking after an open letter of concern from American Jewish organisations including J Street, T'ruah, Americans for Peace Now, Ameinu, Aytzim's Green Zionist Alliance, Habonim Dror North America, Hashomer Hatzair North America, Keshet, National Council of Jewish Women, Reconstructing Judaism, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Right Now: Advocates for Asylum Seekers in Israel, and Tivnu: Building Justice.

It was sharply criticised by the country's Arab minority, who called it racist and verging on apartheid.

Lawmakers had removed the most contentious clause of the bill on Sunday which would have allowed the establishment of "separate communities" and which critics had called racist.

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