Israel has summoned the European Union (EU) Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret for comments he reportedly made saying a planned “nationality law” was racist, Israeli media reported on Friday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed the Foreign Ministry to summon Giaufret, the premier’s office said without giving details on the reason.
Giaufret is reported to have told members of Netanyahu’s Likud party that the proposed legislation which, among other things, foresees the exclusion of groups from certain communities on the grounds of religion and nationality “reeks of racism” and could damage Israel’s image.
“Israel is distancing itself from democratic norms as a result of the bill,” the ambassador said, according to the report.
He reportedly claimed that the legislation discriminates against Arabs.
Giaufret is not alone in his criticism of the controversial proposal.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also warned Netanyahu in a letter against discriminating against entire groups, according to media reports.
The legislation defines Israel as a national state of the Jewish people and under the proposals, Arabic would no longer be used as an official language in the country, only Hebrew.
Lawmakers are set to vote on the bill in the coming week.
In dressing down the EU ambassador, Netanyahu said: “It is not enough that the EU finances NGOs (non-governmental organisations) that strive to undermine the state of Israel and finance illegal construction; it is now interfering with Israeli legislation.
“Apparently they do not understand that Israel is a sovereign state.”
Giaufret’s office has not responded to request for comment.