Turkey accuses Israel of ‘apartheid’ over controversial new law

Turkey accuses Israel of ‘apartheid’ over controversial new law

Israel's Parliament, the Knesset, approved the controversial nationality bill Thursday declaring Israel a nation-state for the Jewish people and downgrading the status of Arabic from official language to "special status".

The government says the bill, passed in the early-morning hours, will merely enshrine into law Israel's existing character.

Turning a blind eye to occupied Palestine's 1.8 million Arab population, the law asserts that "the realization of the right to national self-determination in Israel is unique to the Jewish people", which number around 9 million.

According to the Haaretz, "The [nation-state] law also includes clauses stating that a "united Jerusalem" is the capital of Israel and that Hebrew is the country's official language".

Mr Netanyahu praised the law's passage as a "pivotal moment in the annals of Zionism and the State of Israel". The law would define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Among the most vocal proponents of the law is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vowed to pass the legislation before the Knesset summer recess, which begins Thursday.

Eugene Kontorovich, global law director at the Kohelet Policy Forum, a conservative Jerusalem think tank, defended the bill, arguing it 'is similar to provisions in many Western democratic constitutions, which provide for an official language and national character that reflects the majority of the population'.

At the center of the controversy is the part of the law aimed at promoting the "establishment and consolidation" of Jewish settlements, which is being castigated by the opposition as a shorthand for segregation bordering on apartheid. 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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The law specifies that only Jews have the right to self-determination in the land and delineates the symbols of the state, which are Jewish. "By defining sovereignty and democratic self-rule as belonging exclusively to the Jewish people - wherever they live around the world - Israel has made discrimination a constitutional value and has professed its commitment to favoring Jewish supremacy as the bedrock of institutions".

"Democracy and equality, including when it comes to the rights of minorities, are key rights that define our societies and must to continue to be the basis also of the partnership that we have with Israel and we believe that they should be upheld", she said.

The question of Israel's status as a Jewish state is politically controversial and has always been debated.

Critics of the law say it fails to address democratic concerns and therefore discriminates against Israeli minority groups, including the country's Arab community, which composes 21 percent of the population. The legislation is defined as a "basic law", granting it quasi-constitutional status.

"We call on the global community to respond to this injustice that takes place in front of the eyes of the whole world", Kalin wrote. "We applaud the Knesset for their leadership in passing this historic bill and shall undertake to work with the Knesset, the Government and our allies in the Diaspora to put the principles and vision of this law into effect".

The Hamas official further said "regional and global silence on the occupation's crimes" has emboldened the regime in Tel Aviv to pass one "extremist" law after another.

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

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