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

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

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

Israel's Druze minority - Arabic speakers who serve in the country's military -are protesting the contentious "Nation-State" law, saying it downgrades them to second class citizens.

The petition, the fourth such appeal against the controversial new law, was filed by Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Right in Israel, on behalf of Arab political leaders of Israel including the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, the National Committee of Arab mayors, and the Joint (Arab) List political party.

In a almost 60-page petition, the petitioners maintain that the Israeli Supreme Court must annul the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law as it is racist legislation that contradicts all norms of global law.

Two clauses of the law have drawn particular concern: one which demotes Arabic from official to "special" language status for the first time in Israel's history and another which enables the state to encourage "Jewish settlement". Opponents say the law legitimizes discrimination against Israeli Arabs, who make up roughly 20 percent of the population. The law was first proposed in the Knesset in August 2011.

The nation-state law is part of Israel's so-called Basic Law, a de facto constitution. "For Netanyahu, we are second-class citizens, not equal members in a democracy that works for the benefit of all its citizens".

At least 50,000 Israelis attended a Druze-led demonstration against the law in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Saturday night. 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.

The petitioners stress that "a law that denies the civil and national rights of Palestinians in their homeland is racist, colonialist, and illegitimate".

Israel, which lacks a traditional constitution, holds its basic laws as preeminent, as they are meant to guide the judiciary and require a supramajority in parliament in order to be overturned. "It guarantees Israel's ethnic-religious character as exclusively Jewish and entrenches the privileges enjoyed by Jewish citizens".

"The state of Israel is the national state of the Jewish people".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's advisor for world communities said in an op-ed that critics of the nation-state law that passed last month in the Knesset often are "mistaken and misinformed".