Israel's parliament held special session on 'harmful' nation-state law

Israel's parliament held special session on 'harmful' nation-state law

Israel's justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, said on Sunday that any move by the High Court to overturn the nation-state law would lead to "an natural disaster, a war between the authorities", Haaretz reported.

Palestinian leaders in Israel petitioned the High Court on Tuesday over the new Jewish nation-state law, the latest addition to Israel's Basic Law, that passed in the Knesset last month.

Arabs have strongly criticised the legislation, particularly those from Israel's 130,000-strong Druze community, who say it makes them second-class citizens even though, unlike other Arabs, they are subject to compulsory service in the military or police alongside Jewish Israelis.

Adalah lawyers also argued that the Jewish nation-state law negates the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination in violation of the United Nations charter, and that the law's application to East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights also stands in violation of worldwide law, which specifies that these areas are occupied by Israel.

The petition was submitted on behalf of all Arab political leadership in Israel, the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, the National Committee of Arab Mayors, the Joint List parliamentary faction and in the name of Adalah, against the Knesset, according to an Adalah press release.

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

But critics, both at home and overseas, say it undermines Israel's commitment to equality for all its citizens outlined in the constitution. "[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".

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The plenum on "The nation-state law and the harm it does to the values of equality and democracy" was called by the opposition after successfully obtaining the necessary 25 Knesset member (MK) signatures.

At least 50,000 Israelis attended a Druze-led demonstration against the law in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Saturday night. What it has is a series of Basic Laws to which the Supreme Court unilaterally accorded constitutional status.

The legislation was passed as a so-called basic law, which, similar to a constitution, underpin Israel's legal system and are more hard to repeal than regular laws.

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.

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

Israeli Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, warned of an "earthquake" that would occur, in the case that the Israeli High Court of Justice decides to overturn the controversial Jewish Nation-State law.

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