Arab Groups Challenge Israel's Nation-State Law In Court

Blanche Robertson
August 9, 2018

"This law has all the characteristics of apartheid", the statement asserts.

Article 7 "marks Arab citizens - wherever they may be - as "the other" and the state must therefore discriminate in the allocation of land, housing, budgets and incentives, and land planning and zoning".

Finally, on the issue of Diaspora Jewry, she notes that the law explicitly mentions that "the state will act within the Diaspora to strengthen the affinity between the state and members of the Jewish people" and says that the language chosen to refer to activities in the Diaspora alone was to "avoid an undemocratic situation in which a constitutional "right" would effectively bind the Israeli Government to make decisions based on how they would be perceived overseas".

One of the petitions was filed by Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, demanding the Israeli High Court to overturn it for this reason.

Ma'an reported that, according to the Times of Israel, during an interview with the official Israeli Army Radio, Shaked said that the Israeli High Court has no right to strike down the law on constitutional grounds, because it was passed as a Basic Law.

Adalah lawyers also argued that the Jewish nation-state law negates the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination in violation of the United Nations charter, and that the law's application to East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights also stands in violation of worldwide law, which specifies that these areas are occupied by Israel.

"Any law that denies Palestinians their civil and national rights is racist, colonialist and illegitimate", it said. "There is also no single constitution in the world that does not include the right to equality for all its citizens and residents".

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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.

Tens of thousands of Druze and their supporters rallied in central Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest against the legislation. What it has is a series of Basic Laws to which the Supreme Court unilaterally accorded constitutional status.

Some of the criticism [of the law] is justified; a law that manages to unite virtually the entire Druze community against it, despite this community's longstanding support for Israel as a Jewish state in principle, clearly wasn't drafted with sufficient care, as even the heads of two parties that backed the law-Jewish Home's Naftali Bennett and Kulanu's Moshe Kaḥlon-now admit.

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

But Minister Ze'ev Elkin spoke on behalf of the coalition, and pointed the finger back at Livni for apparently leaving early and for her party's part in the original version of the nation state law.

The Basic Laws of Israel are the constitutional laws that can only be changed by a super-majority vote in the Israeli Knesset, hence the constitutional underpinning of the Israeli justice system.

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