Israel Approves Laws Seen by Some As Racist

By Staff | March 23, 2011 | 7:06 AM EDT

Jerusalem (AP) - The Israeli parliament has approved a pair of laws that critics say are aimed against Israel's Arab minority.

The first law denies state funding to any municipality that publicly refers to Israel's independence as a "catastrophe," which many Palestinians do.

The second grants small communities the authority to reject admission to applicants that are perceived as not fitting into its social fabric.

Both bills were passed early Wednesday. They were sponsored by the hard-line nationalist party of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. He says the bills restored "sanity" to Israel.

The Abraham Fund, a group that promotes coexistence between Israeli Jews and Arabs, called the laws unconstitutional and vowed to appeal them in court.