Arab lawmakers stand up in protest during a Knesset session in Jerusalem, Thursday, July 19, 2018. Israel's parliament approved a controversial piece of legislation on Thursday that defines the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people but which critics warn sidelines minorities. (AP Photo/Olivier Fitoussi)
Arab lawmakers stand up in protest during a Knesset session in Jerusalem, Thursday, July 19, 2018. AP

Saudi joins UAE condemnation of Israeli law’s ‘racial discrimination’



Saudi Arabia has joined the UAE in slamming a controversial Israeli law as "perpetuating racial discrimination" against Palestinians by defining the country as the nation state of the Jewish people, state media reported.

The law adopted by Israel's parliament on Thursday also defines the establishment of Jewish communities as being in the national interest and downgrades Arabic from an official language to one with special status.

Citing a Saudi foreign ministry source, the official Saudi Press Agency said late Friday the kingdom "rejects and disapproves" of the new legislation which it argued contradicts international law.

The source called on the international community to "confront such a law and or other Israeli attempts, aimed at perpetuating racial discrimination against the Palestinian people", SPA reported.

Saudi Arabia said the adoption of the law would also be a barrier to ending the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On Friday, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash branded Israel racist for enacting the law, saying it weakened the possibility for a two-state solution.

“The Israeli Knesset’s ratification of the Jewish-state law enshrines the racist practises against Palestinians and falls in the context of weakening the current political direction for a two-state solution,” Dr Anwar Gargash tweeted.

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Editorial: Israel has shed even the pretence of fairness towards its Arab citizens

Read more: Israel's push to strip Arabic of its official language status

Watch: Tantura - a destroyed Palestinian village

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Earlier this year King Salman reaffirmed Saudi Arabia's "steadfast" support for the Palestinian cause, after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signalled a shift in the country's approach.

Prince Mohammed in April said in a magazine interview that Israelis as well as Palestinians "have the right to have their own land".

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

The Israeli legislation was also condemned by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, comprised of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Adoption of the law "reflected the regime of racism and discrimination against the Palestinian people," GCC secretary general Abdullatif Al Zayani was quoted by SPA as saying.

Mr Zayani accused Israel of trying to obliterate the Palestinians' "national identity and depriving them of their legitimate civil and human rights on their occupied homeland".

Green ambitions
  • Trees: 1,500 to be planted, replacing 300 felled ones, with veteran oaks protected
  • Lake: Brown's centrepiece to be cleaned of silt that makes it as shallow as 2.5cm
  • Biodiversity: Bat cave to be added and habitats designed for kingfishers and little grebes
  • Flood risk: Longer grass, deeper lake, restored ponds and absorbent paths all meant to siphon off water 
MEDIEVIL (1998)

Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5