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

Opposition to Israel nation-state law grows

An Arab rights group in Israel has filed a petition with the Supreme Court against the country's new and controversial Jewish state law. Adalah said that the law "has distinct apartheid characteristics" and denies "civil and national rights of Palestinians in their homeland".

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 law, passed by parliament last month, defines Israel as the Jewish nation-state and downgrades the Arabic language to a "special status".

Greenberg addressed critics of the law who say that it infringes on religious freedom, saying that the law "relates only to the national rights of the Jewish people and does not address religious questions or prescribe an official religion". After outcry from Knesset opposition, American Jewish groups, and Israel's Arab leadership, the final draft of the legislation carried less provocative language allowing the state to "encourage Jewish settlement".

The petition says that the law is "racist, massively harmful to fundamental human rights and contravenes global human rights norms, especially those forbidding laws that constitute a racist constitution".

The petition explains that "there is no single constitution in the world today that declares in its laws that it will act to advance the interests of the dominant group, particularly when it concerns public resources such as land".

Nevertheless, both sides in this dispute agree on one thing: each Basic Law is merely one article in Israel's constitution or constitution-to-be.

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The other petitions were submitted by Druze MKs Akram Hassoun, Saleh Saad and Hamada Amar, representatives of the Bedouin communities and the Meretz party.

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.

"Despite our unlimited loyalty to the state, the state doesn't consider us equals", Israeli Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Muafak Tarif said in a speech at the rally.

It announces the country as a nation state of the Jewish people and makes Hebrew the country's national language.

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

"There is nothing revolutionary in this specific law". She added that there was no need "to categorize them as leftists or as those who want to undermine the government".

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