Palestinian leaders in Israel petition High Court over nation-state law

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Arab groups are challenging Israel's new nation-state law in the country's High Court of Justice, calling it "racist, colonialist and illegitimate".

"It is no accident that this law doesn't mention the word "equality" once", said Ayman Odeh, an Arab lawmaker who heads the Joint List, the Arab bloc in the Knesset, which backed the petition.

Other than now in Israel, "there is no constitution in the world today containing a clause that determines that the state belongs to one ethnic group or that a given state is exclusive to a certain ethnic group", said Tuesday's petition, which was submitted by the Israeli human rights group Adalah and also signed by the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel and the National Committee of Arab Mayors.

Petitioners said the legislation reeked of colonialism because it was "based on the principle of ethnic superiority [and] imposed a constitutional identity on all groups".


Livni apologized to members of the Druze community "not just for the problematic and discriminatory law, but for the fact that he (Netanyahu) didn't bother showing up here for the discussion, to talk, to stand here and give the answers he owes not just you, the Druze community, but to the entire State of Israel". Capt. Amir Jamal, one of the Druze officers who resigned, said in an open letter to Netanyahu on his Facebook page Sunday that has now been removed, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Arab citizens account for some 21 percent of Israel's more than 8.8 million population; they have equal voting rights, freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly, but many have long complained of discrimination.

Protesters wave Israeli and Druze flags at a demonstration in Tel Aviv against the nation-state law, on August 4, 2018.

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.


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

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.

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.

The Israeli High Court has made no moves to overturn Basic Law legislation to date, prompting fears that the petitions will achieve little more than media coverage. What it has is a series of Basic Laws to which the Supreme Court unilaterally accorded constitutional status.


Israeli political leaders, however, argued that the Jewish nature of the state needed to be enshrined in the Basic Laws, Israel's de facto constitution.

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