Israel's Arab leadership petitions High Court to repeal the nation-state law

Critics of Israel's Nation-State Law Misunderstand the Country's Constitutional System

Critics of Israel's Nation-State Law Misunderstand the Country's Constitutional System

On Tuesday, Arab-Israeli leaders filed a petition with the country's Supreme Court against the nation-state law.

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 global 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 nation-state law passed by the Knesset July 19 for the first time enshrines Israel as "the national home of the Jewish people", and says "the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people".

The Nationality Law enshrines the status of the State of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. 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.

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".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday defended a law which has outraged Israel's Druze minority, saying it would help prevent Palestinians and illegal migrants from seeking Israeli citizenship.

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On Saturday, tens of thousands opposing the law had demonstrated against it in Tel Aviv, calling for its annullement to ensure equality for Israel's non-Jewish minorities. "The Knesset is the constituent assembly, which defines and determines the Basic Law".

Members of Israel's almost Druze community and representatives of Israel's Bedouins, both minorities known for their loyal service in Israel's military, have already lodged legal petitions to the court.

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.

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.

Defending the bill Netanyahu said, "No one has harmed them [the Druze] and no one intends to harm, but without a nation-state law it is impossible to fortify Israel's status as a Jewish state".

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