Israel adopts controversial Jewish nation-state law

Israel passes controversial nation-state bill

Israel approves controversial 'Jewish nation state' law

Israel's parliament has passed a controversial law characterising the country as principally a Jewish state, fuelling anger among its Arab minority.

"Israel is now openly and unblushingly a racist, apartheid state", responded human rights activist Craig Murray, a former British diplomat.

The nation-state law is perhaps the most contentious among them.

"This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel", Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset following the result.

The newly-adopted measure is categorized as among Israel's so-called "Basic Laws", which underpin the regime's legal system and are more hard to repeal than regular laws under its constitution. 'It has passed a law of Jewish supremacy and told us that we will always be second-class citizens'.

"This law targets the existence of Palestinians - and their historical rights - in their own land", Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.

Critics called it an "evil law" which turned Arabs and other minorities into second class citizens.

It was like a whirlwind had blown through the Knesset - a stormy session with ripped copies of the nation state bill thrown in the air by disgusted Arab MPs.

Adalah, an Arab rights NGO, said the law was an attempt to advance "ethnic superiority by promoting racist policies". It proclaims "the state of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people" and "the actualization of the right of national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish people".

Last week Netanyahu said: "We will keep ensuring civil rights in Israel's democracy but the majority also has rights and the majority decides". "This law is now part of the constitution and will be with us for years to come, and its application depends on who interprets the law and when". For the one in five Israeli citizens who are Arab-Palestinian, consent has effectively been removed from their governance.

The nation-state law, in contrast, seeks to provide the judicial branch with a legal basis for making decisions that safeguard Israel's Jewish character.

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

Israeli Border Police officers guard the entrance to Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, September 21, 2016. Palestinians have seen some successes in proving ownership over land now being used for Israeli settlements.

However, it will likely face a challenge at the Supreme Court.

Turkey said the legislation "trampled" on universal law and the rights of Israeli Arabs.

He added: "These extremist laws could not have been adopted [by the Knesset] if the world was not silent in the face of Israel's ongoing crimes and unlimited US support for Israel's racist and extremist policies".

Also approved Tuesday was the so-called Breaking the Silence Law, which prevents individuals and groups that promote political action against the State of Israel or prosecution of Israeli soldiers overseas from speaking in Israeli schools. This isn't highly controversial, at least not among Jewish Israelis.

Largely symbolic, the law was enacted just after the 70th anniversary of the birth of the state of Israel. This annexation is considered illegal under worldwide law.

An amendment to add the language "The State of Israel is Jewish and Democratic" was also voted down by the coalition. In 1978 the Israeli and Egyptian leaders agreed on peace terms after talks brokered by the United States at Camp David, paving the way for the first peace agreement between Israel and an Arab state.

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