Israel Passes Contested Law That Defines It as a 'Jewish State'

Posted July 21, 2018

The law, which passed at 3 a.m. Thursday by a 62-55 vote after prolonged debate, weakens the democratic aspects of the Israeli system and fortifies the Jewish nationalist ones.

The bill also strips Arabic of its designation as an official language alongside Hebrew, downgrading it to a "special status" that enables its continued use within Israeli institutions.

The Jewish nation-state bill has been passed in Israel's parliament, which defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and removes Arabic as an official language of the country.

Turkey on Thursday slammed a new Jewish nation-state law passed by Israel's Knesset, saying it "disregards" norms of universal law. Then again, it appeared in the Declaration of Independence and is a well-established cliché.

The bill has bitterly divided Israeli lawmakers, with some arguing that the law will institutionalise "apartheid" rule in Israel.

'Lately, there are people who are trying to destabilize this and therefore destabilize the foundations of our existence and our rights, ' he added.

Israel's adoption of yet another apartheid law - which officially recognizes Jewish supremacy over Arabs in the occupied territories - has drawn sharp criticisms from the European Union as well as senior Palestinians officials, who have blasted the measure as "dangerous" and "racist".

"This law has betrayed those values. Legislation that identifies first- and second-class citizens has no place in a democracy".

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The bill allows the state to encourage the establishment of communities for Jews only.

The bill goes on to state that the "whole and united" Jerusalem is the capital of the nation, in a move that is expected to raise a lot of anger and protests by Palestinians. In the Middle East, only Israel respects [rights].

They wrote: "The defining characteristic of a modern democracy is its promise to protect the rights of all people".

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) likewise condemned the bill and its passage.

IDI analysts said the legal segregation of communities that the original wording of the Bill was particularly problematic.

What is new in the Basic Law that differs from existing practice?

"A United States court ruled in the 1950s that separate can not be equal".

"Do we want to support the discrimination and exclusion of men and women based on their ethnic origin?"

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The question of Israel's status as a Jewish state is politically controversial and has always been debated. "The question of what exactly is considered "political activity against the State of Israel" will now need to be clarified in court cases". "This was a capitulation to the ultra-Orthodox parties, who were afraid that the bill would be interpreted as requiring Israel to recognise the non-Orthodox religious streams in Judaism".

As a Basic Law, the nation-state law has quasi constitutional status.

While non-Jewish citizens of Israel expressed alarm by the law, ordinary Jewish Israelis won't see significant changes in their everyday lives, Israeli journalist Seth Frantzman told Al Jazeera.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, also said the law breaches worldwide regulations.

Israel's definition of itself as a "nation state for Jewish people" harks back to its creation 70 years ago as a homeland for Jews.

"Democracy and equality, including when it comes to the rights of minorities, are key rights that define our societies and must to continue to be the basis also of the partnership that we have with Israel and we believe that they should be upheld", she said.

War broke out the following day, with Arab forces confronting the new Jewish state.

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