PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
PA Chairman Mahmoud AbbasFlash 90

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee, headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, on Tuesday criticized the "Jewish State Law" which would enshrine Israel's status as the nation-state of the Jewish people in state law.

An announcement released by the Executive Committee read "this law will put an end to the two state solution in that it imposes the plan of greater Israel and the Jewish nature of the state on the historical land of Palestine, and it serves as a unilateral Israeli cancellation of the mutual recognition document from 1993."

Aside from the well-documented historical absence of any Arab state of "Palestine," the statement also raises eyebrows in that the PLO has taken numerous unilateral moves breaching the 1993 Oslo Accords, and most recently is threatening a UN statehood bid in breach of the Accords.

The PLO statement continued "the Jewish State Law is a racist political decision that is built to negate the Palestinian rights and to control the land, and it contradicts international law...and the law institutionalizes racism and discrimination in all fields of life, by implementing (Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu's plan to turn Israel into a country based on racism by law."

"What is called the historic national homeland of the Jewish people is an ideological racist exclusive expression, and an attempt to warp and twist the Palestinian historical narrative," claimed the statement. "It creates legitimacy against them (Arab residents of Israel) and prepares the groundwork to expel them and uproot them under the pretext of the law, as they aren't part of the Jewish people."

Abbas torpedoed recent talks in April by, aside from making unilateral moves and signing a unity deal with Hamas, refusing to recognize Israel as the Jewish state even as he demanded a "Palestinian state." Abbas has said a future state of "Palestine" would not have any Jews in it at all.

What is the law?

The bill passed a crucial cabinet vote on Sunday, which cleared the way for it to be put to a vote in the Knesset, and stipulates "the state of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people in which it realizes its aspiration for self determination in accordance with its cultural and historic heritage...the right to realization of national self determination in Israel is exclusive to the Jewish people."

Netanyahu has said he will amend the bill to make it more "moderate," equalizing Israel's Jewish and democratic status as opposed to the current version that highlights the Jewish nature of the state, even as it defines Israel as a democracy respecting the rights of all citizens.

The original bill would have Arabic moved from being an official language of the state to having "special status" instead, although Netanyahu would keep Arabic as an official language, leading many to warn the new version will be watered down enough not to have many practical effects.

Speaking about the bill on Tuesday, Netanyahu said Israel's "democracy is guaranteed. What is being challenged is Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and therefore we are updating via the law this national right of the Jewish people, side-by-side with a guarantee of the personal rights of all of its citizens."