NGO lodges petition against Israel's 'nation-state' law

Illustrative The High Court of Justice in session

Illustrative The High Court of Justice in session

Israel's Arab leaders filed a petition to the high court Tuesday against a controversial new "nation-state" law, adding to a deluge of opposition to the bill that critics brand an undemocratic betrayal of minority communities.

"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.

Israel has come under worldwide criticism since passing the Basic Law, which has also come to be known as the "Jewish Nation-State" law.

Regarding Article 7 of the Nation-State Law, the petition contends that the State of Israel declares "that it is exclusively for the benefit of the Jews" and therefore must exclude Arabs "in order to promote and encourage Jewish settlement". "[The law also] demotes Arabic from its previous status as an official language and declares that Arabic will not be an official language in this land for the first time in modern history".

The law has faced a lot of criticism both inside and outside of Israel. "For Netanyahu, we are second-class citizens, not equal members in a democracy that works for the benefit of all its citizens".

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.

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

The petitioners stress that "a law that denies the civil and national rights of Palestinians in their homeland is racist, colonialist, and illegitimate".

"The Nation-State Law prevents, for example, the exploitation of the family reunification clause under which very, very many Palestinians have been absorbed into the country", he said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

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.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) meets with Sheikh Muafak Tariff, spiritual leader of Israel's Druze community, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara (L) and other Druze leaders at his office in Jerusalem to discuss the nation-state law on July 27, 2018.

On Sunday, two Bedouin former IDF officers also called on the High Court to either change the formulation of the law so it applies equally to all Israelis or abolish it completely.

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