Published: Thu, August 09, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Israeli minister warns High Court of revoking Nationality Law

Israeli minister warns High Court of revoking Nationality Law

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

Livni called for early elections and for replacing the nation-state law with Israel's Declaration of Independence, which pledges to "ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex". Opponents say the law legitimizes discrimination against Israeli Arabs, who make up roughly 20 percent of the population.

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 global human rights norms, especially those forbidding laws that constitute a racist constitution", according to a statement. Thus to argue that the nation-state law is undemocratic because it doesn't mention equality or minority rights is like arguing that the U.S. Constitution is undemocratic because Articles I and II confer broad powers on the legislature and executive without mentioning the protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights. 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.

"In a almost 60-page document, the petitioners call on the Israeli Supreme Court to annul the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law, which is racist legislation that contradicts all norms of global law", the statement reads.

The Nationality Law enshrines the status of the State of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. "[The law also] demotes Arabic from its previous status as an official language and declares that Arabic will not be an official language in this land for the first time in modern history". "For Netanyahu, we are second-class citizens, not equal members in a democracy that works for the benefit of all its citizens".

Tens of thousands of Druze and their supporters rallied in central Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest against the legislation.

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Shaked added that "the Knesset is the constituent assembly, which defines and determines the Basic 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.

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.

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

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.

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