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Israel PM defends law in face of Druze outrage

10 August, 2018, 10:23 | Author: Lucille Rivera
  • Critics of Israel's Nation-State Law Misunderstand the Country's Constitutional System

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

"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.

The law, which was passed by the Israeli Knesset in July, enshrines the status of the State of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and 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.

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".

Nonetheless, Adalah's petition asserts that Article 7 still designates Arabs in Israel as the perpetual "other", allowing the state to discriminate against them in allocation of housing, land, and other public resources. "Individual rights are anchored in many laws", Netanyahu said Sunday.

Gaza rocket hits near southern Israeli city in show of defiance
Nofal claimed that this is one of the reasons why "the Palestinian people have emerged victorious in all battles". It was the first time since a 2014 war that a rocket had hit that deep inside Israel, according to Israeli media.

The nation-state law is part of Israel's so-called Basic Law, a de facto constitution.

Tens of thousands of Druze and their supporters rallied in central Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest against the legislation.

"Despite our unlimited loyalty to the state, the state doesn't consider us equals", Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Muafak Tarif said in a speech at the rally.

The wave of criticism piles pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is already beset by corruption allegations.

Thus to argue that the nation-state law is undemocratic because it doesn't mention equality or minority rights is like arguing that the U.S. Constitution is undemocratic because Articles I and II confer broad powers on the legislature and executive without mentioning the protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights. It contains values that the state was founded on, values of settlement, immigration and national identity. Many people, myself included, disagree with that decision, inter alia because constitutional legislation should reflect a broad consensus, whereas many Basic Laws were approved by only narrow majorities or even minorities of the Knesset. She added that there was no need "to categorize them as leftists or as those who want to undermine the government".

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