Turkey slams Israel's 'Jewish nation-state' law

Jul 20, 2018, 18:29
Turkey slams Israel's 'Jewish nation-state' law

Israeli members of parliament attend the Knesset Plenary Hall session ahead of the vote on a National Law defining the country as the nation state of the Jewish people, July 18, 2018.

It also downgrades Arabic from an official language to a "special one". The version of the law that was passed was significantly better than the original proposed bill.

"Additionally, the bill stipulates that only in the Diaspora will the State of Israel act to preserve the bond between the State and the Jewish people, potentially undermining existing Israeli government commitments to religious pluralism".

The law, supported by the right-wing government, passed by a vote of 62 in favor while 55 against after discussions that lasted until the early morning hours. He said he suspects it is the first step in a bigger plan to establish more such laws and practices "against Arab citizens".

Arabs make up 21 percent of Israel's population. The head of the mainly Arab Joint List alliance Ayman Odeh called it "the death of our democracy".

"Everyone understands what this law is".

Clauses that were dropped after political wrangling would have enshrined in law establishment of Jewish-only communities.

The bill "is very important to guaranteeing the essence of our existence, and we must pass it soon", Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday at a meeting of his Likud party's parliamentary faction.

Ahmed Majdalani, a senior PLO official in Ramallah, said that the nation-state law "exposed the true face of the state of terrorism, fascism and racism".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Knesset plenary session ahead of the vote on the National Law
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Knesset plenary session ahead of the vote on the National Law

This law "tramples on the principles of universal law and disregards the rights of the Palestinian citizens of Israel", the Turkish foreign ministry added in a statement.

The issue is the latest source of tension between Israel and Turkey, one of the Jewish state's few key Muslim partners.

"Today we engraved in the stone of the law: This is our nation, this is our language, this is our anthem, and this is our flag".

"The law weakens the Israeli democracy by sanctioning discrimination against minorities, most notably the Arab citizens of Israel but including others, whose language, collective memory, and cultural identity have been relegated to second-class status". The expression "Jewish and democratic" was completely removed from the law.

Netanyahu has defended the law. "This is the tyranny of the majority that seeks to run over the minority".

The law can be attributed in part to the dissipation of the left in Israeli politics after the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the collapse of the peace process with the Palestinians as Prime Minister Ehud Barak declared after the Camp David summit in 2000 that there was no Palestinian partner.

Peace talks have been stalemated for several years and Israeli settlements in the occupied lands have expanded, despite condemnation from the European Union and other bodies. With the left discredited and amid Palestinian attacks during the second Intifada, or uprising, the public shifted rightward. All of the country's citizens, Israelis and Arabs alike, knew all of this in advance.

Palestinian-American journalist Ali Abunimah concluded that the law "serves to clarify for any who were confused the apartheid and racist nature of the occupying entity". Israel shall always remain a strong, proud and vibrant democracy, and there is nothing in this law that will diminish that.