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

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

An NGO that represents Israel's Arab minority petitioned Israel's Supreme Court on Tuesday against a controversial "Jewish Nation-State" law approved last month by Israel's parliament.

The petitioners run the gamut of Arab Israeli representative groups, including the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, the umbrella body of Arab Israeli organizations; lawmakers of the Joint List in the Knesset; and the committee of Arab council heads and mayors.

The first hearing for the petitions is scheduled for January.

"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. Adalah said that the law "has distinct apartheid characteristics" and denies "civil and national rights of Palestinians in their homeland".

Adalah attorneys Hassan Jabareen, Suhad Bishara, Myssana Morany, Fady Khoury, and Sawsan Zaher, who surveyed the constitutional history of multiple states around the world, stress in the petition that: "There is no [other] constitution in the world today containing a clause that determines that the state belongs to one ethnic group or that a given state is exclusive to a certain ethnic group".

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.

The law has faced a lot of criticism both inside and outside of Israel.

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The petition argued that by declaring Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people alone, the law excludes the rights of its Arab citizens, who make up around 20 percent of the population.

"It could be that this law will also be able to assist us in blocking the future entry of labour migrants", he said in Hebrew.

It also describes the building of Jewish settlements as being in the Israeli national interest.

Several Basic Laws, including those on the Knesset, the government, and the judiciary, detail the mechanisms of Israeli democracy and enshrine fundamental democratic principles like free elections and judicial independence. The law, however, would not require making state services accessible in Arabic.

"The High Court justices are very serious and professional people", she said.

Shaked said that the law does not harm minorities but added that measures should be taken to "deal with the pain of the Druze community". "I very much hope that this doesn't happen and I don't believe it will happen".

Since it was passed, three petitions against the law have been filed to the High Court, demanding it be overturned on constitutional grounds.

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