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

Leroy Wright
August 9, 2018

Israeli Arab leaders on Tuesday filed a almost 60-page-long petition against the newly enacted Jewish Nation-State law, calling the legislation "racist, massively harmful to fundamental human rights" and in contradiction to worldwide law.

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. By explicitly declaring that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people alone, it totally excludes Palestinian citizens of Israel, who comprise 20 percent of the population of the state, and who are a homeland minority group.

Filed by legal rights group Adalah, the petition said the law passed by the Knesset last month is "racist, massively harmful to fundamental human rights and contravenes worldwide human rights norms, especially those forbidding laws that constitute a racist constitution", according to a statement.

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".

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.

The petition says that the law is "racist, massively harmful to fundamental human rights and contravenes worldwide human rights norms, especially those forbidding laws that constitute a racist constitution". It has prompted particular outrage from Israel's Druze minority, whose members say the law's provisions render them second-class citizens.

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Last week, the left-wing Meretz party petitioned the court against the law, claiming it violated a basic law passed in 1992 that guarantees "human dignity" for all citizens of Israel.

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.

Shaked added that "the Knesset is the constituent assembly, which defines and determines the Basic Laws". What it has is a series of Basic Laws to which the Supreme Court unilaterally accorded constitutional status.

"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?"

It is also argued that, in violation of the United Nations charter, the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law negates the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

On Sunday, two Bedouin former IDF officers also called on the High Court to either change the formulation of the law so it applies equally to all Israelis or abolish it completely.

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