Israel Formally Defines Itself As "Jewish Nation-State"

Israel Formally Defines Itself As

The law states that only Jews have the right of self-determination in Israel.

The law, backed by the right-wing government, was passed with a 62-55 vote and two abstentions in the 120-member parliament, after months of political argument.

Some Arab politicians shouted and ripped up papers after the vote. Its drafters say it is aimed at boosting Israel's Jewish character and its passage into law Thursday was celebrated as a historic moment by Netanyahu and his cohorts.

"The law announcing Jerusalem, occupied by Israel, as the capital city is null and void in the eyes of the worldwide community", the ministry said, adding that promoting Jewish settlements that have been repeatedly deemed unlawful by the United Nations is also "unacceptable".

'Lately, there are people who are trying to destabilize this and therefore destabilize the foundations of our existence and our rights, ' he added. Today we made it into law: "This is the country, the language, the anthem, and flag". This is our country.

"As long as they act against the State of Israel and the Israeli army, I will not allow them to operate in the education system", he said. Sometimes what a law says is more important than what it does.

Critics, including President Reuven Rivlin, have claimed that earlier versions of the nation-state law, which legalized the creation of Jewish-only, Arab-only or other ethnically, religiously or culturally homogeneous communities, were discriminatory against Arabs and other minorities.

The law, which had been in the works since 2011, has sparked a wave of protests, which spilled over the Israeli border and angered the influential Jewish diaspora in the US.

But the bill has energized Netanyahu's electoral base and received almost unanimous support in the Prime Minister's Likud party.

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"If there had been another paragraph that also gives full equality to all citizens of Israel, then I would have been a lot more relaxed", he said.

The law, passed in the early hours of Thursday, speaks of Israel as the Jewish historical homeland and says Jews have the right to self-determination there.

"The measure downgrades Arabic from its longstanding status as one of Israel's official languages to one that has 'special status, '" the American Jewish Committee (AJC) said in a statement. From my work across the Jewish community through the UK Task Force I saw how schools, charities and synagogue communities have grown in their understanding of and work with Israel's Arab citizens.

Jeremy Ben Ami, president of J Street, a Washington liberal pro-Israel group, said the bill's goal is 'to send a message to the Arab community, the LGBT community and other minorities in Israel, that they are not and never will be equal citizens'.

"Such racist and prejudicial legislation is illegal by all standards of global law, democracy, humanity, justice, tolerance, and inclusion", Ashrawi said in a statement.

A spokeswoman said that the European Union had previously voiced its concern at the bill, while stressing full respect for Israel's sovereignty as a democratic country.

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.

Daniel Sokatch, the head of the New Israel Fund, described the law as "tribalism at its worst" and a betrayal of Jewish and democratic values that creates first and second-class citizens. They are mostly Palestinians and their descendants who remained in place after the 1948 war between Arabs and Jews.

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