12:02 GMT22 February 2020
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    Thousands of Jews and Israeli Arabs took to the streets of Tel Aviv Saturday shouting 'Equality' and 'Apartheid will not pass' in Arabic and Hebrew and waving Palestinian flags amid fears of discrimination on the basis of nationality following the passage of legislation declaring Israel to be a 'nation-state' and Hebrew its only official language.

    "Yesterday we received unequivocal evidence of defiance to the existence of the State of Israel and the necessity of the Nation-State Law," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting on Sunday.

    "We saw flags of the PLO [Palestinian Liberation Organization] in the heart of Tel Aviv. In the heart of Tel Aviv!" Netanyahu emphasized. "We heard slogans in Arabic including 'By blood and fire we will clear Palestine.'"

    "Many of the demonstrators want to repeal the Law of Return; they want to abolish the anthem and the flag, and turn Israel into a Palestinian state. It's clearer now more than ever that the Nation-State Law is needed to ensure the future of Israel as a Jewish State," Netanayhu said.

    Answering potential critics, Netanyahu added that "Israel is a Jewish and democratic state. The personal rights of citizens are protected perfectly well in the Basic Law and by other laws."

    Arab Israelis make up roughly a fifth of Israel's population of close to 9 million. Critics of the Nation State Law, which was enacted late last month by Israel's parliament, the Knesset, fear the law may lead to discrimination based on ethnicity and religion, and undermine Israel's status as a democratic state. Supporters of the law say it is largely a symbolic law enshrining the country's status as a Jewish state.

    Saturday's protests were joined by Arab Israelis, as well as Jewish supporters of the country's center-left opposition parties.

    Polling conducted for Walla! News late last month found that 58 percent of Israelis supported the new law, with 34 percent opposed and 8 percent having no opinion.


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    nation-state, law, protests, response, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel
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