Israel's parliament (Knesset) has adopted a controversial bill that declares the occupying entity "the nation-state of the Jewish people", in what is widely criticized as an apartheid measure that could lead to discrimination against its own Arab population.
The bill, which has the status of a basic law (approximately the same as a constitutional law in countries with a written constitution), was passed overnight to Thursday with 62 votes in favor and 55 against after hours of fierce argument and debate.
It states that "Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it".
Another contentious clause strips the Arabic language of its official status, instead granting it "a special status" and leaving Hebrew as the only official state language.
After the bill passed into law, he said it marked "a pivotal moment in the annals of Zionism and the State of Israel".
Mr Rivlin was one of many Jewish Israelis who objected to the law, and thousands protested the proposed legislation under the banner "this is home for all of us" in Tel Aviv last week.More news: Novichok ‘was inside bottle of perfume’
A range of opposition members denounced the vote, with the head of the mainly Arab Joint List alliance Ayman Odeh denouncing it as "the death of our democracy".
"This is an evil law", he told lawmakers, adding that "a black flag hovers over it". "So today we have made a law in stone".
According to the Haaretz, "The [nation-state] law also includes clauses stating that a "united Jerusalem" is the capital of Israel and that Hebrew is the country's official language".
"It has passed a law of Jewish supremacy and told us that we will always be second-class citizens", it said.
Also approved Tuesday was the so-called Breaking the Silence Law, which prevents individuals and groups that promote political action against the State of Israel or prosecution of Israeli soldiers overseas from speaking in Israeli schools.
Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, called the law a bid to advance "ethnic superiority by promoting racist policies".More news: Nuclear deal with North Korea 'may take some time': Pompeo
Those who remained have full equal rights under the law but say they face constant discrimination, citing inferior services and unfair allocations for education, health and housing.
Israel's Arab members of parliament, such as Ahmed Tibi, condemned the bill.
The American Jewish Committee, a group representing the Jewish Diaspora, said it was "deeply disappointed", adding that the law "puts at risk the commitment of Israel's founders to build a country that is both Jewish and democratic".
"The objective of this law is discrimination".
"By defining sovereignty and democratic self-rule as belonging exclusively to the Jewish people - wherever they live around the world - Israel has made discrimination a constitutional value and has professed its commitment to favoring Jewish supremacy as the bedrock of its institutions", Adalah General Director Hassan Jabareen said in a statement following the vote.More news: Houston to host NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2023