Israeli parliament pass controversial bill declaring itself a “Jewish state”

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu praised the bill.

The Israeli parliament has passed a law stating that the country is officially a “Jewish state”, which has sparked outrage among its Arab minority.

The “nation state” law claims Jews have an exclusive right to national self-determination there and places Hebrew above Arabic as the official language.

Arab MPs responded angrily in parliament, with some tearing the bill up.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the bill’s passage as a “defining moment”.

He said: “A hundred and twenty-two 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.”

However, the law is expected to further isolate Israel’s large Arab minority, who have been discriminated against for decades.

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Entitled “The Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People”, the law defines Israel first and foremost as a Jewish state before anything else.

Among its 11 provisions, the legislation describes Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” and says the right to exercise national self-determination there is “unique to the Jewish people”.

It also reinforces the status of Jerusalem under Israeli law, which defines the city as the “complete and united capital of Israel”.

The law also states that Hebrew is the “state’s language” – prioritising it above Arabic, which has been recognised as an official language alongside Hebrew.

It gives Arabic a “special status” and says its standing before the law came into effect will not be harmed.

In one of its clauses, the legislation highlights the importance of “development of Jewish settlement as a national value”, though it is unclear whether this also alludes to settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

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