New Israeli law paves way for ethnic cleansing

Remigio Civitarese
Luglio 21, 2018

"This is racist legislation by a radical right-wing government that is creating radical laws, and is planting the seeds to create an apartheid state", said physician Bassam Bisharah, 71, a resident of Ma'alot Tarshiha, a municipality in northern Israel created by linking a Jewish and an Arab town.

The Archbishop called on human rights advocates and organisations and the global community to reject this "new and risky law" which targets Palestinians in their homeland.

A Knesset usher removes Jamal Zahalka, an Israeli Arab member of the Knesset representing the Balad party, who was protesting against the passage of the bill.

"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.

Palestinian leaders condemned the move. The head of Israeli Joint List groups of parties Ayman Odeh denounced it as "the death of [our] democracy". The EU considers this law to be a major roadblock in the path of a "two-state solution".

The law was passed after a rather uncanny prelude.

It further states that a "united Jerusalem" is the capital of Israel and that Hebrew is the country's official language, stripping Arabic of its earlier designation as an official language but recognizing its "special status".

Israel's Arab citizens number some 1.8 million, about 20 percent of the 9 million population.

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Critics say it effectively makes Israeli Arabs, who make up a fifth of the nine-million population, second-class citizens.

Clauses that were dropped after political wrangling would have enshrined in law establishment of Jewish-only communities.

A more vaguely-worded final version said: "The state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment".

"The Palestinians will stay in their land despite these racist laws", he added.

Even after the changes, critics said the new law will deepen a sense of alienation within the Arab minority. Hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes or fled.

The American Jewish Committee, a group representing the Jewish Diaspora, said it was "deeply disappointed", adding that the law "puts at risk the commitment of Israel's founders to build a country that is both Jewish and democratic".

Israelis opposed to the bill, deeming it discriminatory, took to the streets to protest in large numbers in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

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