Russia: Jewish State Law ‘greatly complicates’ Mideast peace
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Russia: Jewish State Law ‘greatly complicates’ Mideast peace

A day after high-level bilateral meeting, Moscow joins criticism of controversial legislation, warns measure will ‘promote tensions’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and PM Netanyahu at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, July 23,2018. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and PM Netanyahu at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, July 23,2018. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Moscow on Tuesday said a newly passed Israeli law defining the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people “greatly complicates” efforts to restart peace talks with Palestinians, joining a chorus of international condemnation for the controversial legislation.

Russian Foreign Ministry official Artyom Kozhin told reporters the newly passed law “does not serve the cause of peace and promotes a degree of tension ‘on the ground, [and] greatly complicates efforts aimed at accelerating a meaningful peace process between Palestinians and Israelis.”

Kozhin reiterated Moscow’s support for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in “accordance with international law and relevant UN resolutions.”

The law, passed by the Knesset in a 62-55 vote early Thursday, enshrines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” in its quasi-constitutional Basic Laws, defines the establishment of Jewish communities as being in the national interest, and defines Arabic as a language bearing a “special” status in the state, effectively a downgrade from its de facto status as a second official language in state bodies.

Critics in Israel and abroad have fiercely derided the legislation as unnecessary and discriminatory against the country’s non-Jewish populations. Arab citizens account for some 21 percent of Israel’s more than 8.8 million population and have long complained of discrimination.

After the law was passed, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on the international community to thwart the “racist” legislation, while his top aide, Saeb Erekat, said it “officially legalizes apartheid” in Israel.

Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council also slammed the legislation as discriminatory.

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan branded Israel the “most fascist, racist state” in the world over the legislation, which he compared to Nazi laws.

Russia’s criticism of the contentious law came a day after Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made a surprise visit to Israel for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Iranian military entrenchment in Syria.

Ahead of the meeting, Netanyahu hailed the “extraordinarily important” ties between Israel and Russia. He said that he “appreciated” Putin’s commitment to Israel’s security concerns as he and other world leaders discuss the future of Syria.

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