Israel passes nation-state law

The Knesset passed a national self-determination bill on Thursday that stresses Israel's Jewish character and strips Arabic of its official language status. The law also foresees the creation of municipalities that can deny Arabs the right of residence. For some the new law is deeply undemocratic, for others it is a legitimate means to defend the Israeli state.

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Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Unworthy of a democracy

The Israeli nation state law is profoundly undemocratic, columnist Antonio Ferrari criticises in Corriere della Sera:

“That Israel has now decided by parliamentary vote to marginalise the Arab minority (and by extension the Muslim minority) which constitutes 20 percent of its population and whose unity is guaranteed by a special status is a hypocritical step and inappropriate for a state that describes itself as democratic. ... The reaction of the Arab parties that were present in the Knesset was predictable. Far more noteworthy, however, is the rebellion of the parliamentarians, including the conservatives, who reject a toxic decision that jeopardises the democratic faith of a state that was born and raised to counter all forms of discrimination.”

The Independent (GB) /

Law legalises discrimination

The new law cements discrimination against Palestinians, The Independent writes indignantly:

“This law does indeed constitute a new development, effectively doubling down on longstanding inequality. ... Already excluded from hundreds of Israeli communities by residential admission committees, Palestinian citizens will rightly suspect this article ... can only intensify the discrimination they face over land and housing. The new law is also a fresh obstacle to a genuine two-state solution - as if any more were needed. The Palestinian leadership has always resisted Israeli premiers' demand to recognise Israel as a 'Jewish state' as a condition for talks. This law only confirms how such opposition is well-grounded.”

Yeni Şafak (TR) /

Apartheid in the Middle East

The decision will only aggravate the conflict between Israel and the Muslim world, warns the Islamic-conservative paper Yeni Şafak:

“In passing the Jewish national law yesterday, Israel proclaimed the existence of the only 'racist state' in the world. Arabs were declared second-class, degraded to the level of a 'servant class' for the Jewish nation. ... After the demise of the Apartheid regime in South Africa, racism in the Middle East has now taken up the baton. This decision gains impetus from Donald's Trump's decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, the racist, neoconservative invasions of our region that took the form of an 'apocalyptic war' under George W. Bush, and the racist waves that have taken both sides of the Atlantic hostage. ... Today Israel and the Muslim world are entering a new phase of the conflict.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Already clear that Israel is a Jewish state

Die Welt finds nothing to fault with the decision to define Israel as a Jewish state:

“No Israeli politicians have ever left any doubt about this. If they had, they would have been contradicting the state's declaration of independence of 14 May 1948. ... Any indignation about stressing the Jewish character of Israel, which has now been enshrined in law, would therefore not be worth mentioning if it weren't being used as ammunition by Israel's enemies, who question the very existence of the Jewish state. ... If one really wanted to criticise the law, the only complaint would be that Prime Minister Netanyahu is emphasising something that doesn't need any more emphasis.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

The conservatives have won

Israel is betraying its own values, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung criticises:

“The idea that Israel is a Jewish state is contested neither domestically nor internationally. Israel was conceived and created as a homeland and refuge for Jews. ... No, what liberals and leftists find questionable is that the new law turns its back on the original Zionist respect for democracy and equality. What counts here is what the law does not say. Because unlike the Declaration of Independence of May 1948, the new law makes no mention of the principle of equality. ... Some proponents of liberalism tried to have such a passage included in the new law, but failed.”

Polityka (PL) /

Not the solution to Israel's dilemma

The new law aggravates the conflict between Israel's national identity and the guarantee of democratic rights for all citizens, Polityka fears:

“Israel has been facing this ever more urgent dilemma for a long time now: How can it remain 'the only democracy in the Middle East' without at the same time losing its Jewish values? The new law only exacerbates this dilemma.”