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EU’s Mogherini to meet with Israeli Arab lawmakers over nation-state bill

A statement issued by the EU's diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini (pictured) and enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn did not mention the Turkish strongman by name or refer to his victory in Sunday's poll, which saw him return to office with expanded p
JOHN THYS (AFP)

A delegation of Israeli Arab lawmakers will travel to Brussels to meet with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini amid Israel’s passage of the controversial nation-state bill, head of Joint Arab List MK Ayman Odeh tweeted on Saturday.

Scheduled for September 4, the meeting in Belgium was said to have been arranged a week before the nation-state law received its final Knesset approval with 62 votes in favor, 55 against and two abstentions.

This is the first time Mogherini will convene with Israeli Arab politicians.

The law, which has near-constitutional power as part of the series of Basic Laws that inform and direct Israel’s legislative and judicial branches, defines Israel as the national homeland for the Jewish people and states that "the realization of the right to national self-determination in Israel is unique to Jewish people."

According to Haaretz, Odeh sent a personal letter to Mogherini following the passage of the bills first reading on June 22 and urged the European Union to intervene.

Two clauses of the law have drawn widespread attention, namely the demotion of Arabic from an official language of the state to one with "special status," and the promotion of “Jewish settlements”.

The law has drawn a barrage of condemnation from the European Union alongside a host of Arab countries including Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said it exposed the racist face of the Israeli occupation and its violation of all international legitimacy resolutions.

AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner

The law included clauses saying the capital of Israel is a united Jerusalem and the demotion of Arabic from an official language of the state to one with "special status."

“The adoption of such false and racist laws will not change the historical situation of Jerusalem as the capital of the occupied state of Palestine,” Abbas rebuked.

The laws passage "reflects the regime of racism and discrimination against the Palestinian people," Gulf Cooperation Council secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani was quoted by Saudi Press Agency as saying. The GCC is comprised of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as well as Turkey and the Palestinian Authority.

Egypt on Saturday said it undermined prospects for peace in the region as well as the right of Palestinian refugees to return to what they deem as their ancestral homeland.

"We reject the Israeli government's efforts to establish an apartheid state," Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter, referring to the segregation of blacks and whites in white-ruled South Africa.

Syria's foreign minister also joined the denunciation, slamming Israel as "racist."

However, the language of many of the clauses is vague, and deliberately so. So although the demotion of Arabic’s status, it’s not clear which or any implications it may have practically.

Similarly, the clause stating the promotion of Jewish settlements does not specify where but rather serves as a general rule and value for the State of Israel.

Arab citizens account for some 17.5 percent of Israel's more than eight million population. They have long complained of discrimination.

When the law passed, Arab MKs reportedly ripped their copies of it in protest and many yelled at Netanyahu as they were escorted out of the Knesset.

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