Israel's parliament held special session on 'harmful' nation-state law

Elias Hubbard
August 10, 2018

Israeli Arab leaders on Tuesday filed a petition to the High Court of Justice against the controversial nation-state law, in the fourth such petition to the court since the law was passed on July 19.

Finally, on the issue of Diaspora Jewry, she notes that the law explicitly mentions that "the state will act within the Diaspora to strengthen the affinity between the state and members of the Jewish people" and says that the language chosen to refer to activities in the Diaspora alone was to "avoid an undemocratic situation in which a constitutional "right" would effectively bind the Israeli Government to make decisions based on how they would be perceived overseas". There are also two Basic Laws on human rights, both of which explicitly define Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state.".

Regarding Article 7 of the Nation-State Law, the petition contends that the State of Israel declares "that it is exclusively for the benefit of the Jews" and therefore must exclude Arabs "in order to promote and encourage Jewish settlement".

Members of Israel's almost Druze community and representatives of Israel's Bedouins, both minorities known for their loyal service in Israel's military, have already lodged legal petitions to the court.

The wave of criticism piles pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, already beset by corruption allegations. But the Israeli leader has remained unwavering in the face of the outpouring of opposition, arguing that the law is necessary for future generations and that the protection of minorities is enshrined in other legislation.

"The Nation-State Law prevents, for example, the exploitation of the family reunification clause under which very, very many Palestinians have been absorbed into the country", he said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

The petitioners run the gamut of Arab Israeli representative groups, including the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, the umbrella body of Arab Israeli organizations; lawmakers of the Joint List in the Knesset; and the committee of Arab council heads and mayors. "For Netanyahu, we are second-class citizens, not equal members in a democracy that works for the benefit of all its citizens".

"The petition was submitted on behalf of the Arab political leadership in Israel", the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, also known as Adalah, said in a statement.

Adalah insists the legislation should be annulled, AP said.

Greenberg addressed critics of the law who say that it infringes on religious freedom, saying that the law "relates only to the national rights of the Jewish people and does not address religious questions or prescribe an official religion".

It announces the country as a nation state of the Jewish people and makes Hebrew the country's national language.

Israel's justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, said on Sunday that any move by the High Court to overturn the nation-state law would lead to "an quake, a war between the authorities", Haaretz reported.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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