Critics of nation-state law 'mistaken and misinformed,' Netanyahu advisor says


An Arab rights group in Israel has filed a petition with the Supreme Court against the country's new and controversial Jewish state law.

"The petition was submitted on behalf of the Arab political leadership in Israel", the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, also known as Adalah, said in a statement.

The "nation state law", which has near-constitutional power as part of the series of Basic Laws that inform and direct Israel's legislative and judicial branches, was passed by a 62-55 margin earlier this month, enshrining Israel as the historic homeland of the Jewish people and stating Jews have a "unique" right to self-determination within its borders.

"The accusations about the new law's effects on Israeli democracy have no connection to the actual content or context of the law", Sara Greenberg wrote in an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post.

The Basic Laws of Israel are the constitutional laws that can only be changed by a super-majority vote in the Israeli Knesset, hence the constitutional underpinning of the Israeli justice system.

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". It has prompted particular outrage from Israel's Druze minority, whose members say the law's provisions render them second-class citizens.

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"For the Druze public, which gives of its blood and its sons for the State of Israel, the nation-state law is spitting in our face", the petitioners said.

Almost 50,000 Israelis, lead by Druze leadership, took to the streets Saturday to protest the law in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square. "The Knesset is the constituent assembly, which defines and determines the Basic Law".

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

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".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been trying to placate the Druze with a package of benefits, but efforts to negotiate it have stalled.

The nation-state law does not "contradict or supersede the basic laws that protect and guarantee individual rights of all citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender", she wrote.