Abbas: Palestinians and Arab Israelis united against ‘racist’ nation-state law
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Abbas: Palestinians and Arab Israelis united against ‘racist’ nation-state law

PA president blasts ‘absolutely intolerable’ Knesset legislation enshrining Israel as Jewish state

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas chairs a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah July 28, 2018. (ABBAS MOMANI/AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas chairs a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah July 28, 2018. (ABBAS MOMANI/AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said Palestinians and Arab Israelis stand together against Israel’s quasi-constitutional nation-state law.

Abbas made the comments at the start of a meeting of the Palestinian Central Council, the PLO’s second highest decision-making body, in Ramallah.

“What Israel is doing now…in this clear and scandalous manner is absolutely intolerable,” Abbas said, referring to the nation-state law.

“Therefore, we are united against this racist and fascist law,” he added, speaking of Palestinians and Arab Israelis.

Abbas also said the meeting of the Palestinian Central Council, which is slated to conclude on Thursday, will include a discussion of “ways to confront” the legislation.

Arab Israelis carry banners during a demonstration to protest against the nation-state law in Tel Aviv on August 11, 2018. (AFP/ Ahmad GHARABLI)

The nation-state law, which the Knesset passed with a 62-55 vote on July 19, enshrined Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people,” and said “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” It also recognized Jewish holidays and days of remembrance and declared Hebrew the state’s national language.

The legislation included no reference to the equality of all Israeli citizens and it appeared to grant the Arabic language a lesser status than Hebrew.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended the legislation.

At a cabinet meeting earlier this month, Netanyahu pushed back against criticism, arguing that other quasi-constitutional laws protect all Israelis’ individual rights. He also contended that the law was necessary to ensure that “Israel remains not just democratic, but also the nation-state of the Jewish people, and of the Jewish people alone.”

Last weekend, tens of thousands of Arab Israelis and Jews participated in a rally against the law in Tel Aviv.

That demonstration saw some protesters wave Palestinian flags, drawing criticism from right-wing politicians, including Netanyahu, who cited it as proof the legislation was necessary.

“Yesterday we saw PLO flags in the heart of Tel Aviv,” Netanyahu said on Sunday. “Many of the demonstrators want to abrogate the Law of Return, cancel the national anthem, fold up our flag and cancel Israel as the national state of the Jewish people and turn it – as their spokespersons said – into an Israeli-Palestinian state, and others say: A state of all its citizens.”

“It is for precisely this that we passed the nation-state law,” he added.

Netanyahu has long demanded Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state as a condition for any future peace deal.

The overwhelming majority of protesters at the rally did not wave any flag.

Organizers also asked the demonstrators not to bring flags to the protest, according to Mohammed Barakeh, a longtime leader of the left-wing Hadash party who currently heads the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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