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NGO lodges petition against Israel's 'nation-state' law

09 August 2018

Consequently, it's ridiculous to claim that the nation-state law undermines democracy, equality, or minority rights merely because those terms don't appear in it, given that several other Basic Laws already address these issues.

"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 petition argued that by declaring Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people alone, the law excludes the rights of its Arab citizens who make up around 20 percent of the population.

Adalah, a rights group for Palestinian citizens of Israel, submitted a petition against the law on behalf of Palestinian leaders in Israel, including the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, the National Committee of Arab Mayors and the Joint List members of the Knesset.

"MK Ahmad Tibi said the law only served to widen the divide between the rights of Israel's Jews versus those of non-Jews, adding that "'there is only one mention of Arabs in this law, and it's negative-canceling the status of the Arabic language".

The petition also noted that Article 7 of the law, which describes Jewish settlement building as a "national value", encourages discrimination by the state in the allocation of land, housing, budgets and zoning. "Individual rights are anchored in many laws", Netanyahu said Sunday. The law was first proposed in the Knesset in August 2011.

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But critics, both at home and overseas, say it undermines Israel's commitment to equality for all its citizens outlined in the constitution.

The Nationality Law enshrines the status of the State of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. It has prompted particular outrage from Israel's Druze minority, whose members say the law's provisions render them second-class citizens.

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. "It guarantees Israel's ethnic-religious character as exclusively Jewish and entrenches the privileges enjoyed by Jewish citizens".

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.

Since it was passed, three petitions against the law have been filed to the High Court, demanding it be overturned on constitutional grounds.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) meets with Sheikh Muafak Tariff, spiritual leader of Israel's Druze community, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara (L) and other Druze leaders at his office in Jerusalem to discuss the nation-state law on July 27, 2018. The law has stirred calls for that to end.

NGO lodges petition against Israel's 'nation-state' law