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09 August 2018, 10:56 | Glen Norman
Israel PM defends law in face of Druze outrage
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 global law.
On 19 July 2018, the Israeli Knesset voted 62 to 55 to approve the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law that constitutionally enshrines Jewish supremacy and the identity of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
Regarding the collective rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel and the status of the Arabic language, attorneys argue in the petition that "the Nation-State Law - in violation of worldwide law - does not recognize any collective right of the Arabs as a homeland minority, as opposed to enshrining broad exclusive collective rights for the Jewish population, as if Jews were a minority requiring special protection".
The petitioners said the law was "racist, colonialist, and illegitimate" because it denied the civil and national rights of Palestinians in their homeland, the statement added.
The petition also claimed the law explicitly rejects Palestinian national rights, which, when applied to areas claimed by Israel beyond the Green Line in East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, constitutes a violation of the laws of occupation contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention. "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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She said that while Hebrew has been defined by Basic Law as the official state language, the new law for the first time enshrines Arabic as a language with "special status", and notes the law also states that "the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect will not be harmed". The law was first proposed in the Knesset in August 2011.
Tens of thousands demonstrated against the law in Tel Aviv on Saturday, calling for it to be amended to ensure equality for the country's minorities. "It guarantees Israel's ethnic-religious character as exclusively Jewish and entrenches the privileges enjoyed by Jewish citizens". It is at least the thirds challenge filed with the Supreme Court over the law.
In an interview on Monday with Army Radio, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked warned of an "earthquake" if the high court attempts to overturns the law, saying that the Supreme Court does not have the authority strike down a Basic Law on constitutional grounds.
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The wave of criticism piles pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, already beset by corruption allegations. The law has stirred calls for that to end.
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