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Israel passed a "nation-state" law on Thursday declaring that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country, stirring anger from members of the Arab minority who said it was racist and drawing an expression of concern from the EU.

The approval of the controversial bill is another bid to cement the occupation of Palestinian territories and wriggle out from recognizing Palestinian rights, the statement added. It also states that an undivided Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

The bill's critics also warned that it risked deepening the divide between Israel and Diaspora Jewry. Critics were concerned that the reduced status of Arabic from an official language to "special" status was needlessly provocative.

Hamdallah called upon the worldwide community to act quickly, stop this apartheid law, and hold Israel accountable for legalizing its crimes against humanity, saying that "Israel, the Occupying Power is threatening all global and humanitarian values, principles, and laws of security and peace".

Ashrawi called on all members of the worldwide community and people of conscience to question such legislation and blatant discriminatory policies and bring Israel to compliance with the norms and standards of civilized behavior. "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". For example, section 2 establishes the name of the country as Israel and describes its flag in detail, while section 8 sets the Jewish calendar as the official state calendar.

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However some clauses were dropped following objections by Israel's president and attorney-general, including a clause that would have enshrined in law the creation of Jewish-only communities.

"We will keep ensuring civil rights in Israel's democracy but the majority also has rights and the majority decides". All people should be valued and Israel's Arab and other minority populations should be a treasured part of society. For example, the left-wing Meretz party put forward an amendment to change the bill's name from "Israel - the nation-state of the Jewish People" to "Israel - For Orthodox Jews Only".

Hassan Jabareen, the director general of Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said that the law had key elements of apartheid, which is prohibited under worldwide law.

T'ruah, the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, said in a statement that the law "endangers Israeli democracy, legalizes discrimination against 20 percent of Israeli citizens, threatens religious pluralism and threatens the very future of Israel". Hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes or fled.


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