Nation-State Law: An Apartheid Law Which Defines Israel First And Foremost A Jewish State
Israel’s right-wing coalition parliament has passed into law a controversial bill last week that defines the country as an exclusively Jewish state, provoking fears it will lead to blatant discrimination against its Palestinian citizens.

On July 19, the so-called “nation-state law” was approved with a 62-55 vote, hailed by Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “defining moment”.

The bill has drawn rebuke from the European Union and was denounced by the Palestinian Authority and Arab citizens of Israel as racist legislation.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the PLO Executive Committee announced on Monday that Palestinian leaders will ask legal authorities at the UN for an opinion on Israel’s violations of the principles of the UN Charter.

Pushed by the most rightwing government in Israeli history, the bill is unashamedly majoritarian and illiberal. It declares that Israel is “the national home of the Jewish people,” that only Jews have a right to national self-determination in Israel, that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and that Hebrew is the only official language – downgrading the official status of Arabic.

“The Arab Republic of Egypt announces…its rejection of the law passed by the Israeli Knesset on the “national state for the Jewish people law … for its ramifications that consecrate the concept of occupation and racial segregation,” the Egyptian foreign ministry said later in a statement.

“It undermines the chances for achieving peace and reaching a just and comprehensive solution for the Palestinian issue,” it added.

When the law was passed, legislators representing Israel’s Palestinian citizens tore copies of the bill in protest. As they were expelled from the Knesset plenum, two of the deputies yelled at Netanyahu: “You passed an apartheid law, a racist law”.

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The law’s sponsor, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee chairman Avi Dichter, turned to Arab MKs in the final address before voting and told them: “We were here before you, and we will be here after you”. From their side, the minority lawmakers tore up the bill in protest.

Ahmad Tibi, another Arab Knesset member who belongs to the Joint List party – a coalition of primarily Arab parties, bitterly denounced the law as “the end of democracy,” and “the official beginning of fascism and apartheid.”

“I announce with shock and sorrow the death of democracy,” Tibi said.

Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, called the law a bid to advance “ethnic superiority by promoting racist policies”.

Hassan Jabareen, general director of Adalah said: “The Jewish nation-state law features key elements of apartheid, which is not only immoral but also absolutely prohibited under international law,”

“By defining sovereignty and democratic self-rule as belonging solely to the Jewish people – wherever they live around the world – Israel has made discrimination a constitutional value and has professed its commitment to favouring Jewish supremacy as the bedrock of institutions.”

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