Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade Niall Collins TD has expressed his deep concern and worry as Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a law that states that only Jews have a right to self-determination in the country.

Deputy Collins added, “Fundamentally, this further compounds the second class treatment of non-Jews in the State of Israel. With 1.8 million Arabs, which equates to approximately 20% of the population, I believe that this change in law will have an incredibly negative impact on Arab-Israeli relations, and in particular on the Arab minority living in the country.

“In addition to removing the right to self-determination, this  law downgrades the Arabic language from an official language to a language with ‘special status’ and also enshrines in law that the State of Israel views the development of Jewish settlements as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment.

“In effect these changes further water down the rights of Arabs living in Israel. This can only add fuel to the ongoing conflict in the region. Arab-Israeli relations are at a historic low and this statutory change will further limit the ability to restart the peace process.

“Earlier this month, Billy Kelleher and I both visited Israel and Palestine. It’s clear that Israel seems to be moving further away from a two-state solution and genuine engagement in peace talks.

“Israel will continue their expansion of illegal settlements, discrimination of the Arab minority, and alienation of neighbouring states unless it is made clear that this type of behaviour is unacceptable.

“The European Union and the wider international community cannot and must not turn a blind eye to this latest regressive development. If action is not forthcoming very soon, the dream of a two-state solution will become un-salvageable,” concluded Collins.