Turkey condemns Israel for controversial 'Jewish state' law

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin

On Thursday, the Israeli parliament passed a new law establishing Israel as the "nation-state of the Jewish people".

"The passage of the nation-state law has cast a dark shadow over Israel", said Hagit Ofran, an activist with Peace Now.

The new nation-state bill is either the right answer to those who criticise Zionism or a "dark shadow" cast on Israel.

Israeli-Arab Knesset Member Ayman Odeh holds a signs reading

The AFP notes that Reuven "Ruvi" Rivlin, the President of Israel whose role is mainly symbolic, had made a rare intervention in politics earlier this month to raise alarm over the clause. Enter several dozen anti-democratic laws and chief among them the nation-state law, which was meant to place everything that is "Jewish" as privileged above that which is secular or Arab. 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.

The "nation state" law says Jews have a unique right to national self-determination there and puts Hebrew above Arabic as the official language.

It also urged broader shareholder advocacy in support of human rights in Israel and Israeli-occupied territories, and voiced the need for corporate social responsibility to help foster peace between the two sides.

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Suleiman Basharat, a researcher at the Yabous Center for Strategic Studies, warned of the law's adverse effect on Israeli-Palestinian relations.

It gives only Jews the right to self-determination, discriminating against one-fifth of the population that includes almost two million Arab Israelis and other minorities.

Israel is often accused by its fiercest critics of practising a system akin to apartheid against Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

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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". A number of Arab lawmakers ripped up copies of the bill as the law was passed, and they were removed from the chamber as a result. Indeed, the ruckus over the brand-new law obscures the reality that there's not actually much new about it at all.

The Israeli parliament's recent move was also denounced by Iran, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi describing it as "yet another attestation of the racist nature of this regime over the past 70 years".

Citing a Saudi foreign ministry source, the official Saudi Press Agency said late Friday the kingdom "rejects and disapproves" of the new legislation which it argued contradicts global law.

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