Nation-State Law Upheld by High Court

YERUSHALAYIM -
Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

An Israeli High Court decision upholding the Nation-State Law was angrily denounced by Arab groups as racist, according to media reports on Thursday.

The judges dismissed a petition to repeal the law, which defines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people.”

They said that there are no grounds to nullify the 2018 legislation, which they say is meant “to anchor the state’s identifying components as a Jewish state, without diminishing the components of the state’s democratic identity that are anchored in other Basic Laws.”

Adalah, an Arab legal rights group, which submitted one of the 15 petitions, said:

“It has now been conclusively proven that the High Court does not protect Palestinians from laws that are among the most racist in the world since World War II and the fall of the apartheid regime in South Africa.”

Joint List faction chairman Ahmed Tibi said: “The High Court of Justice almost never helps the Palestinian minority in Israel on issues that go to the heart of their rights as a minority,” Tibi alleged. ” The high court failed once again to prevent the harm caused by the inequality of Israel’s ethno-democratic regime.”

The ruling was also criticized by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, though for the opposite reason, saying that the court should not have granted the petitioners a hearing, and that it “was done with a total lack of authority.”

Shaked charged in a tweet that the attempt to “revokng the nation’s authority to define the character and identity of the State of Israel in the name of abstract principles knocks down the basis of the democratic process.”

Justice Minister Gideon Saar welcomed the ruling, saying the law “anchors the Jewish essence and character of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people” and that “there is no harm in the law to the individual rights of any Israeli citizen.”

Opponents of the law argue that the Nation-State Law, while delineating Jewish national rights and symbols including the importance of “Jewish settlement,” but without any language guaranteeing the equality of all citizens, especially minorities.

Its defenders say that there was no need for equality to be spelled out in the law, since equality for all citizens is already part of Israel’s Basic Law: human dignity and freedom, and that did not change.

Justice George Kara wrote a dissenting opinion, which held that some clauses of the law “negate the core of the democratic identity of a state and shake the thresholds of the constitutional structure,” urging they be expunged.