Critics Call Israel's Nation-State Law 'Provocative And Racist'

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Basharat concluded by saying that, through the new legislation, Israel "has officially ended the peace process and given up on the possibility of reaching a political solution [with the Palestinians] based on global law".

"We call once more on all parties to refrain from unilateral moves that undermine the two-state solution".

Saudi Arabia has joined the UAE in slamming a controversial Israeli law as "perpetuating racial discrimination" against Palestinians by defining the country as the nation state of the Jewish people, state media reported. It states that only Jews have the right of self-determination in Israel.

Pushed through by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government on Thursday, the legislation also states among its 11 provisions that Hebrew is now considered the official language of Israel while Arabic is given a "special status".

There are roughly 1.8 million Arabs in Israel - almost 20% of Israel's nine million population.

The law was passed because the "current leaders of Israel are extremists", said Sabbah, adding he hopes at one point new Israeli leaders will change the law to one that "treats all citizens of the state equally".

It fills me with deep sorrow that I must today ask the same questions that I asked 14 years ago before the Knesset: can we ignore the intolerable gap between what the declaration of independence promised and the realities of Israel? Arabs make up 21% of Israel's population.

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Egypt alongside Jordan is the only other Arab country that has a peace treaty and significant economic ties with Israel.

It said the law would also have a potential impact on the right of Palestinians displaced from their homes in 1948 when Israel was founded, and their descendants, to return to their homes under United Nations resolutions.

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

The new law promotes the development of Jewish communities, possibly aiding those who would seek to advance discriminatory land-allocation policies.

The law passed with a 62-55 backing, with two members of the Knesset abstaining.

"I think this is racist legislation by a radical right-wing government that is creating radical laws and is planting the seeds to create an apartheid state", said physician Bassam Bisharah, 71. The law also speaks about Jewish religious rights in Israel.

He said he suspects it is the first step in a bigger plan to establish more such laws and practices "against Arab citizens".

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