Israeli-Arab Committee launches legal steps against Nationality Law

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Israeli Arab leaders on Tuesday filed a almost 60-page-long petition against the newly enacted Jewish Nation-State law, calling the legislation "racist, massively harmful to fundamental human rights" and in contradiction to worldwide law.

The nation-state law passed by the Knesset July 19 for the first time enshrines Israel as "the national home of the Jewish people", and says "the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people".

Israel has come under worldwide criticism since passing the Basic Law, which has also come to be known as the "Jewish Nation-State" law. By explicitly declaring that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people alone, it totally excludes Palestinian citizens of Israel, who comprise 20 percent of the population of the state, and who are a homeland minority group.

"Any law that denies Palestinians their civil and national rights is racist, colonialist and illegitimate", the petitioners said.

Greenberg noted that prior to the passage of the nation state law as a Basic Law with quasi-constitutional status there were laws to protect individual freedoms and to define the various branches of government, but despite the fact that the "open, free and democratic nature of Israel was enshrined in law" there was none "defining the identity and objective of the state".

On Saturday, tens of thousands opposing the law had demonstrated against it in Tel Aviv, calling for its annullement to ensure equality for Israel's non-Jewish minorities.

In an interview on Monday with Army Radio, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked warned of an "earthquake" if the high court attempts to overturns the law, saying that the Supreme Court does not have the authority strike down a Basic Law on constitutional grounds.

"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.

Thus to argue that the nation-state law is undemocratic because it doesn't mention equality or minority rights is like arguing that the U.S. Constitution is undemocratic because Articles I and II confer broad powers on the legislature and executive without mentioning the protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights. "It guarantees Israel's ethnic-religious character as exclusively Jewish and entrenches the privileges enjoyed by Jewish citizens".

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

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