Israel adopts controversial Jewish nation-state law


The nation state law defines Israel exclusively as the home of the Jewish people.

"It is our state, the Jewish state, but in recent years some have tried to question that as well as the principles of our existence and our rights", Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the vote on the legislation, backed by his right-wing government.

It states that "Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it".

Ahead of the vote, opposition members of the Knesset said the law meant to harm the status of Israel's Arabs, with several clauses downgrading the status of the Arabic language from an official language to one with "special status", according to the newspaper.

Mr Netanyahu claimed that the law was a response to...

The legislation becomes part of the country´s basic laws, which serve as a de facto constitution.

Palestinian citizens of Israel form around 20 percent of the country's population of 9 million.

Israeli Arab MPs condemned the legislation, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised it as a "defining moment". "This is our state - the Jewish state", he said. But the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, said the bill still threatened to undermine Israel's democratic values.

Those who remained have full equal rights under the law but say they face constant discrimination, citing inferior services and unfair allocations for education, health and housing.

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

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They were subsequently thrown out of the Knesset plenum hall, Haaretz reported. Tibi told reporters that its passage represents the "death of democracy" in Israel.

Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List, wrote on Twitter that the "tyranny" of the majority had squashed the rights of the minority.

Before it was adopted, 14 American Jewish organizations relayed their concerns to the incoming Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog, who has been a vocal critic of the bill himself.

Israel's parliament has passed a divisive law declaring that only Jews have the right to "national self-determination" in Israel, prompting angry accusations from Arab citizens that the government is formally codifying racism.

Early drafts of the legislation went further in what critics at home and overseas saw as discrimination towards Israel's Arabs, who have long said they are treated as second-class citizens.

For instance, New Israel Fund CEO Daniel Sokatch called the bill "completely incompatible" with the "democratic foundation" of the Israeli state.

Kontorovich dismissed the "faux outrage" against the bill as 'simply another attempt to single-out the Jewish state and hold her to a double standard'.

"It has passed a law of Jewish supremacy and told us that we will always be second-class citizens", the statement said.

The controversial bill underwent a number of last minute changes to soften language following political disputes and objections, including from Israel's president and attorney-general.

But the Jewish community itself has been split about the law.