Contentious bill defines Israel as Jewish nation

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking in the Knesset in 2016

It will also grant Diaspora Jewry the right to return to Israel.

Israel's adoption of yet another apartheid law - which officially recognizes Jewish supremacy over Arabs in the occupied territories - has drawn sharp criticisms from the European Union as well as senior Palestinians officials, who have blasted the measure as "dangerous" and "racist".

"The law of nationalism is the last nail in the coffin of the so-called Israeli democracy, which has been dying in recent years because of its suffering from chronic racist diseases that have been afflicted with fascism and directed to Apartheid through the legislation of this law", they said.

"Now that this law has been passed by the Knesset, the State of Israel has an obligation to ensure that, in practice, this Basic Law is not used to discriminate against minorities, particularly its Arab citizens, and that the state maintains its commitment to improve relations between Jews in Israel and those around the world", Greenblatt said.

An Israeli parliamentary committee is deliberating a contentious bill that would define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Hanan Ashrawi in a statement on Thursday strongly denounced the Knesset's adoption of the "Jewish Nation-State" Bill, saying it gives license to apartheid, discrimination, ethnic cleansing, and sectarianism at the expense of the Palestinian people. Around 20 per cent of Israel's population is Arab.

It was replaced with a loosely-defined clause that reads: "The state sees the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation".

"As The Israeli-Jewish Congress, our very mission since inception has been the promotion of the principle of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people", Sloutsker said.

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The Bill reads: "Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it".

But opponents to the law say it marginalises the country's Arab minority.

The bill, which many from the political right wing have joined traditional opposition on the left to oppose, has been decried as "an end to Israel as a democracy".

Controversially, the law singles out Hebrew as the "state's language", effectively prioritising it above Arabic which has for decades been recognised as an official language alongside Hebrew.

"An absolute majority wants to ensure our state's Jewish character for generations to come". Adalah, an Arab rights NGO, said the law was an attempt to advance "ethnic superiority by promoting racist policies".

It comprises mainly descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land during the conflict between Arabs and Jews that culminated in the war of 1948 surrounding Israel's creation. Hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes or fled.

Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly insisted that the Palestinians must recognise Israel as a Jewish state in any final peace settlement.

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