EU Foreign Policy Chief to Meet With Israeli Arab Lawmakers

The lawmakers expect the meeting to deal with the nation-state law, which passed in the Knesset Thursday, giving Jews exclusive right to self-determination in the country

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini at a news conference, July 14, 2018.
Mohamed Ben Khalifa/AP

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini will meet a delegation of Israeli Arab lawmakers, headed by Joint List head Ayman Odeh in Brussels on September 4. This is the first time Mogherini would be meeting with Israeli Arab lawmakers.

The meeting was arranged a week before the nation-state law received final approval in the Knesset, but Arab lawmakers describe the meeting as important following the passage of the legislation. The law, which passed on Thursday, gives Jews exclusive right to self-determination in the country.

>> Jewish nation-state law makes discrimination in Israel constitutional | Analysis ■ Israel's contentious nation-state law: Everything you need to know

Odeh, Haaretz has learned, sent a personal letter to Mogherini on June 22, after the law passed its first reading, and requested the European Union to intervene.

The law has drawn rebuke from the European Union and was denounced by the Palestinian Authority and Arab citizens of Israel as racist legislation.

Egypt slammed the law on Saturday, saying it undermines the chances for peace in the Middle East and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. 

American Jewish groups also criticized the passage of the law, with Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, saying that "Israel is losing its soul and weakening its democracy and Jewish character. Its beacon of light on the nations is now dim. Even I am having difficulty seeing it." 

The American Jewish Committee said that it was "deeply disappointed" over the passage of the law, which has continuation-like status, highlighting the clause in the legislation that downgrades the status of the Arabic language and another one that favors the development of Jewish communities.