Knesset Makes Apartheid Official

By a vote of 62-55, the Israeli Knesset has adopted the controversial “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People”, which effectively enshrines apartheid as the official policy of the country. As part of the country’s uncodified constitution, the new law defines Israel as a Jewish state with Hebrew as the state language, removing parallel official status from Arabic, despite the strong objections of Joint List (Arab and radical) and other members of the Knesset. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the passing of the law as a “defining moment.”

The new law stresses the importance of “development of Jewish settlement as a national value”, thus providing full constitutional protections for the expansion of the illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank. While the law claims to respect the rights of all citizens, its 11 points include the recognition of Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” with the right to exercise national self-determination there being “unique to the Jewish people.” It defines the city of Jerusalem as the “complete and unified capital of Israel.”

As PLO spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi said, the law “gives license to apartheid, discrimination, ethnic cleansing and sectarianism at the expense of the Palestinian people. Such racist and prejudicial legislation is illegal by all standards of international law, democracy, humanity, justice, tolerance and inclusion.”

Israel is being investigated by the United Nations over potential war crimes committed when more than 120 protesters were shot dead during the Great Return March demonstrations during April and May. More than ever, the time has come for people and organizations in Canada to stand in solidarity with the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel’s apartheid policies, and to demand that the federal government condemn Israel’s gross violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people.

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