Israel passes 'racist' nation state law
Israeli lawmakers on Thursday passed a controversial law declaring that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country.
The legislation, dubbed the 'nation state law,' has been labelled by members of the country's Palestinian minority as racist.
Palestinian citizens of Israel form around 20 percent of the country's population of 9 million.
Lawmakers in Israel's parliament passed the law by a vote of 62-55, with two abstentions, following months of debates on the issue.
"This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset following the result.
The bill has bitterly divided Israeli lawmakers, with some arguing that the law will institutionalise "apartheid" rule in Israel.
"The nation state law was taken out of storage and apartheid pops out of the box," Tamar Zandberg from the left-wing Meretz party told The Independent.
One clause of the bill downgrades the Arabic language from official to "special" standing.
Lawmakers removed a clause allowing the establishment of "separate communities" that was criticised as racist, replacing it with a clause encouraging "Jewish settlement".
The European Union's ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, said the bill "reeks of racism" and is "distancing Israel from the accepted norms of democratic countries".