Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Israel PM defends law in face of Druze outrage

Critics of Israel's Nation-State Law Misunderstand the Country's Constitutional System Opposition to Israel nation-state law grows
Jeannette Daniel | 09 August, 2018, 22:59

The law includes legally preserving Israel's "democratic" character, its state symbols (national anthem, flag, icon), Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Hebrew as the official language and the right of return for Diaspora Jewry.

Article 7 "marks Arab citizens - wherever they may be - as "the other" and the state must therefore discriminate in the allocation of land, housing, budgets and incentives, and land planning and zoning".

On Tuesday, Arab-Israeli leaders filed a petition with the country's Supreme Court against the nation-state law.

"In a almost 60-page document, the petitioners call on the Israeli Supreme Court to annul the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law, which is racist legislation that contradicts all norms of worldwide law", the statement reads.

Israel's parliament ("Knesset") held a special session on Wednesday to debate the controversial nation state law passed last month declaring the country the nation state of the Jewish people.

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.

"Any law that denies Palestinians their civil and national rights is racist, colonialist and illegitimate", it said.

But critics, both at home and overseas, say it undermines Israel's commitment to equality for all its citizens outlined in the constitution. I'm holding the first draft of the Nationality Law, which was submitted in 2011.

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The plenum on "The nation-state law and the harm it does to the values of equality and democracy" was called by the opposition after successfully obtaining the necessary 25 Knesset member (MK) signatures.

Tens of thousands of Druze Israelis, along with Jewish supporters, thronged a Tel Aviv square on Saturday night in a rare demonstration against government policy by the typically muted community.

The legislation was passed as a so-called basic law, which, similar to a constitution, underpin Israel's legal system and are more hard to repeal than regular laws.

Druze leaders, including three MKs, were first to demand the High Court strike down the "extremist" law.

"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.

But Minister Ze'ev Elkin spoke on behalf of the coalition, and pointed the finger back at Livni for apparently leaving early and for her party's part in the original version of the nation state law.

"The real question is who is for and who is against the Declaration of Independence, and why is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against the Declaration of Independence?"

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