Lutherans seek aid for Palestine in wake of Israel bill

EU expresses concern over Israel's Jewish nation-state law

EU expresses concern over Israel's Jewish nation-state law

The European Union expressed concern and called for the rights of minorities to be respected.

In the absence of the six officials, the ambassador made the presentation on behalf of Palestine, which has non-member observer status at the United Nations.

The Jerusalem Post website provides the English text of the legislation, which stipulates that "t$3 he actualization of the right of national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish people".

He called its approval a "decisive moment" in Israeli history.

The lawmakers came from across the political spectrum - from the coalition, MK Hamed Amar of the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party and MK Akram Hasson of the centrist Kulanu party, and from the opposition, MK Salah Sa'ad of the Labor party, now represented in the Knesset by the center-left Zionist Union.

Ayman Odeh, the head of the Arab Joint List, pulled out a black flag and waved it during his speech, warning of the implications of the law.

The government says the bill, passed in the early morning hours, will merely enshrine into law Israel's existing character.

Israeli Arabs, many of whom identify as or with Palestinians, comprise about 20% of the country's nine million-strong population. They have long complained of discrimination.

Jamal Zahalka, an Arab member of the Knesset who voted against the law, told Al Jazeera it establishes a new set of rules that will legitimise anti-Arab racism and increase the building of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Turkey defined the legislation as a "racist" attempt to create "an apartheid state" discriminating against Israeli Arabs.

Even after the changes, critics said the new law will deepen a sense of alienation within the Palestinian Arab minority. "We believe it is the only way forward and any step that would further complicate or prevent this solution of becoming a reality should be avoided".

Instead, a more vaguely-worded version was approved, which says: "The state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment".

The Israeli parliament has just passed a law that deals with the very identity of the country.

But it "does not address the issues of democracy and human rights, and blatantly undermines the balance between the State's Jewish and democratic definitions".

"Rather than celebrating 70 years of independence with an initiative to strengthen the Jewish and democratic values of the Jewish nation-state in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, the Israeli Parliament [Knesset] today passed a law that is jingoistic and divisive", he said.

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