*Setback for peace process, two-state solution
*Legislation 'legalises apartheid'
Qatar expressed on Thursday its strong condemnation of the so-called Jewish nation-state bill adopted by Israel, stressing that it perpetuates racism and undermines any hopes that remain in the peace process and the two-state solution.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that this step is a setback in the path towards coexistence and just peace.
The ministry added that the bill was a blatant discrimination against Arab landowners, at a time when human civilization tends to celebrate diversity and to consolidate the values of tolerance and constructive civilizational interaction between peoples, cultures and languages.
The statement stressed that this bill, by turning the construction of settlements and the Judaisation of Al Quds into a constitutional principle, flagrantly violates international law and United Nations resolutions, including the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which prohibits the transfer and displacement of people in occupied places during war, and UN Security Council Resolution 2334 of 2016, adopted by the Security Council, which directly criminalises Israeli settlements and calls for a cessation of violence against Palestinian civilians.
Qatar called upon the international community to activate its resolutions and to compel Israel to abandon this ideological bill and to end its violations of international law.
Qatar also called on all those who have any influence on Israel to stand by justice and human values to discourage Israel from this decision.
Agencies add from Jerusalem:
Israel's parliament adopted the law early Thursday provoking fears it could lead to blatant discrimination against Arab citizens.
Arab lawmakers and Palestinians called the law "racist" and said it legalised "apartheid" following a tumultuous debate in parliament.
Others said it neglects to specify equality and Israel's democratic character, implying that the country's Jewish nature comes first.
The legislation, adopted by 62 votes to 55, makes Hebrew the country's national language and defines the establishment of Jewish communities as being in the national interest.
Arabic, previously considered an official language, was granted only special status.
The law speaks of Israel as the historic homeland of the Jews and says they have a "unique" right to self-determination there, according to copies of the final text quoted by Israeli media.
However, a deeply controversial clause that had been seen as more specifically legalising the establishment of Jewish-only communities was changed after it drew criticism, including from President Reuven Rivlin.
The legislation becomes part of the country's basic laws, which serve as a de facto constitution.
A range of opposition politicians denounced the vote.
The head of the mainly Arab Joint List alliance Ayman Odeh called it "the death of our democracy".
Arab parliament members who called the legislation "racist" ripped up copies of the bill in the chamber of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, after it was passed.
"This is a law that encourages not only discrimination, but racism as well," lawmaker Yousef Jabareen said.
Arab citizens account for some 17.5% of Israel's more than 8mn population.
They have long complained of discrimination.
Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, called the legislation a "dangerous and racist law" that "officially legalises apartheid and legally defines Israel as an apartheid system".
The head of the respected Israel Democracy Institute think tank, Yohanan Plesner, called the law "an unnecessary embarrassment" to the country.
The institute's Shuki Friedman said much of the law is symbolic, but it would force the courts to consider the country's Jewish nature and lead to a more "narrow interpretation of Arabs' rights".
By emphasising Israel's Jewish nature, it is "reducing, not directly but indirectly, its democratic nature," Friedman told AFP.
The passage of the law continues Israel's rightward shift in recent years amid frustration with failed peace agreements with the Palestinians and steady growth in settlement building in the occupied West Bank.