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Israeli Arab MPs protest against law enshrining ‘apartheid’ policy

ISRAELI Arab MPs launched an angry protest in the Knesset as it passed a controversial law they say enshrines apartheid as the official policy of the state of Israel.

One MP ripped up the Bill amid angry scenes while another waved a black flag as the new “nation state” law defines Israel as a Jewish state with Hebrew as the state language, removing parallel official status from Arabic.

And as the law stresses the importance of “development of Jewish settlement as a national value” Palestinians fear the expansion of the illegal settlement programme in the occupied West Bank.

It is one of Israel’s basic laws, which make up the country’s uncodified constitution.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the passing of the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People as a “defining moment.”

He said: “122 years after Herzl made his vision known, with this law we determined the founding principle of our existence.

“Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, and respects the rights of all of its citizens,” he said.

The 11 points of the law include the recognition of Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” with the right to exercise national self-determination there being “unique to the Jewish people.”

And controversially it defines the contested city of Jerusalem as the “complete and unified capital of Israel.”

But PLO spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi said the law “gives license to apartheid, discrimination, ethnic cleansing and sectarianism at the expense of the Palestinian people. 

“Such racist and prejudicial legislation is illegal by all standards of international law, democracy, humanity, justice, tolerance and inclusion.”

She called on all members of the international community and people of conscience to “question such legislation and blatant discriminatory policies and bring Israel to compliance with the norms and standards of civilised behaviour.”

Israel is currently being investigated by the United Nations over potential war crimes committed after more than 120 unarmed protesters were shot dead during the Great Return March demonstrations during April and May.

They were demanding the right to return to land stolen when the state of Israel was established in 1948. Mr Netanyahu says the Palestinians must now recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

But Ms Ashwari vowed: “Despite all Israeli efforts at eradicating our rights and our identity, the Palestinian people’s resilience and determination to attain their freedom and historical validation will prevail.”

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