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Saudi Arabia slams 'racial discrimination' of Israeli law

© AFP/File | Protesters march against Israel's nation-state law in the city of Tel Aviv on July 14, 2018

RIYADH (AFP) - 

Saudi Arabia has slammed 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.

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 percent 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.

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".

© 2018 AFP