|Joint List leader, MP Ayman Odeh, raises a black banner
during the discussion of the bill in Knesset.
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.” It must be noted that Arabs make up 21% of Israel’s population.
Furthermore, the law affirms "the state sees the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation."
“This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset
Largely symbolic, the law was enacted just after the 70th anniversary of the birth of the state of Israel. It stipulates “Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it”.
Palestinian leaders condemned the move. “No racist law will undermine the rights of our people. We are proud of being a strong nation deeply rooted in our homeland,” Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement.
Arab lawmakers protested the bill’s approval arguing it is a codification of apartheid and ripping papers in a symbolic gesture, which prompted Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to remove them from the plenum. Hadash MP Aida Touma-Souliman yelled at Netanyahu: "You passed an apartheid law, a racist law".
Reaction from Hadash-Joint List MPs
Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint List, raised a black flag during the debate in Knesset and later released a statement saying that Israel "passed a law of Jewish supremacy and told us that we will always be second-class citizens." Around 1.8 million Arabs live in Israel, they are the descendents of the Palestinians who remained in what is today Israel after the 1948 “War of Independence.”
|"This is home for all of us" reads a banner, during
a protest in Tel Aviv on June 14th (Photo: Al Ittihad)
Thousands of demonstrators rallied in the streets of Tel Aviv on July 14, expressing their opposition to the racist law. Among the thousands of demonstrators was MP Ayman Odeh (Hadash) who blasted the bill as a “law whose purpose is to jab a finger in the eye of a fifth of Israel’s population; spark a dispute and further polarize the society to make political gains for the Netanyahu tyranny.” Odeh said, “In a government that has lost all shame, that fears its own shadow, the majority tramples the minority, legislation is racist and the democratic space is under constant threat.”