Israeli parliament to vote on contentious Nation State…

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CAIRO - Egypt on Saturday said a new Israeli law giving Jews the exclusive right to self-determination in the country undermined the chances for peace in the Middle East and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

The bill also includes additional racist amendments, where the most important article defines Jerusalem as Israel's unified capital.

In a statement issued on Friday, Hezbollah stressed that the law passed by Knesset aims at depriving the Palestinian diaspora from returning to homeland and enhancing the process of bring the world Jews to settle in Palestine instead of the native inhabitants.

"Palestine will remain Arab and it is a genuine right for its Arab people, with their different religion and sects", the statement said.

Ahmed Tibi, one of the lawmakers, said: "I announce with shock and sorrow the death of democracy".

The Palestinians have called the law racist and that can lead to the apartheid regime.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday called on the worldwide community to intervene against Israel over the new law, calling the contentious piece of legislation "racist" and bristling at its affirmation of Jerusalem as the country's capital.

The "Nakba Law", Adalah reports, has been in effect since 2011 and "authorizes the [Israeli] Finance Minister to reduce state funding or support to an institution if it holds an activity that rejects the existence of Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state" or chooses to mark the anniversary of Israel's foundation as a "day of mourning".

In Ma'alot-Tarshiha, a municipality in northern Israel which was created by linking the Jewish town of Ma'alot and the Palestinian town of Tarshiha, there was anger among Palestinian residents.

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"The goal of this law is 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. Israel's Arabs number some 1.8 million, about 20 percent of the 9 million population. "The law weakens Israeli democracy by sanctioning discrimination against minorities, most notably the Arab citizens of Israel, but including others, whose language, collective memory, and cultural identity have been relegated to second-class status", said ACRI spokesman Gilad Grossman. Met with fierce resistance by progressive and moderate forces alike, including Israel's President Reuven Rivlin, a watered-down yet odious version nevertheless made it into law.

"The 'nation-state" bill is the exact definition of Apartheid...

"The law did not bring anything new because the same situation already exists in Israel since the founding of the state".

The law was passed because the "current leaders of Israel are extremists", said Sabbah, adding he hopes at one point new Israeli leaders will change the law to one that "treats all citizens of the state equally".

Netanyahu has defended the law.

Those of us who care for Israel's long-term future must act for the country's democratic health.

"An absolute majority wants to ensure our state's Jewish character for generations to come". Hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes or fled.

The online Discriminatory Laws Database, managed by Adalah-The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, counts some sixty-five Israeli laws that discriminate directly or indirectly against Palestinians.

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