Israel’s parliament passes the Nation-State Bill: Legalisation of apartheid policy

Demonstrators in Telaviv against Land ActThe Nation-State Bill or the Nationality Bill was adopted by Knesset (the Israeli parliament) on 19th July 2018. The law became one of the basic laws. Basic laws are similar to a constitution and underpin Israel’s legal system and are more difficult to repeal than regular laws. The law specifies the nature of the state of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

The Nation-State Bill or the Nationality Bill was adopted by Knesset (the Israeli parliament) on 19th July 2018. The law became one of the basic laws. Basic laws are similar to a constitution and underpin Israel’s legal system and are more difficult to repeal than regular laws. The law specifies the nature of the state of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Demonstrators in Telaviv against Land Act

The passing of the law has met with widespread opposition not just from the Arab people in Israel and Palestine, but from all sections of people in Israel and the world over. In Tel Aviv, tens and thousands of Jews, Christians, Moslems and Druze came out on the streets to protest.

Protesters were seen holding signs “If we are brothers we must be equals” and “Our force is in our unity – the nation-state law differentiates between us.” They have pointed out how this is a dangerous and racist law that officially legalizes apartheid. It legitimises the criminal treatment meted out to Arabs living in Israel. It will legitimize the further annexation of the West Bank and eliminate any discussion on two states of Palestine and Israel co-existing.

There are three major statements in the law which seek to legitimize the discrimination of the Arab population in Israel by the state. It seeks to legitmise the expansion of Jewish settlements and encroachment on the West Bank.

The first one states that “the right to exercise national self-determination” in Israel is “unique to the Jewish people.” The second statement establishes Hebrew as Israel’s official language, and downgrades Arabic — a language widely spoken by Arab Israelis — to a “special status.”

And the third statement establishes “Jewish settlement as a national value” and mandates that the state “will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.” It also reiterates that Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.

The law’s sponsor, who is a member of the Israeli Knesset, stated, “We are enshrining this important bill into a law today to prevent even the slightest thought, let alone attempt, to transform Israel to a country of all its citizens.” Responding to objections to the proposed basic law, he told the Arab population that “The most you can do is to live among us as a national minority that enjoys equal individual rights, but not equality as a national minority.”

The Palestinian people and justice loving people the world over have never accepted the illegal occupation and annexation of the Palestinian people’s homeland, their forcible displacement and the brutal terror unleashed upon them by the Israeli state. The Zionist state was created through armed aggression, massacres, ethnic cleansing and cruel displacement of nearly 750,000 Palestinian people from their homeland. It continues to follow the same anti-Palestinian anti-Arab policy, and denies the Palestinian people their own homeland. It has ensured that the Palestinian people are denied their national rights.

The people of Israel – Arabs and Jews, are yearning for peace and security in their lives. The new law is a retrograde step that serves to divide them and to destroy all chances for their living side by side in cooperation for their mutual benefit.

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