Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) sharply condemned proposed legislation that will define Israel as a Jewish nation-state, calling the Sunday, May 7 decision by ministers to support the so-called Jewish State bill a “declaration of war” against Israel’s Arab citizens.
“Discrimination has received an official seal of approval. The danger of this law is that it establishes two classes of citizen – Jewish and Arab,” Odeh wrote in a statement in response to a unanimous vote by the Knesset’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation in favor of Likud MK Avi Dichter’s proposed bill. In a particularly controversial clause of the bill, Arabic would be downgraded from its current status as one of the three official languages of the state (along with Hebrew and English) to one having a “special status.” The advancing of the legislation comes as US President Donald Trump is set to conduct an official visit to Israel in two weeks time.
“Instead of working to build a joint future for all of the country’s citizens, the government is working to destroy the standing of the Arab population and exclude their culture and language,” agreed MK Odeh.
Hadash MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) called the bill “apartheid at its finest,” arguing that it would grant the status of constitutional law to Jewish privilege in Israel over the state’s Arab minority. If the bill is enacted, it will become a basic law, joining the central body of legislation that is the equivalent of Israel’s constitution. “Israel cannot claim to be a democratic state [if its] statute books contain a law explicitly guaranteeing greater rights to Jews, for example through its definition of the state, its symbols and its official language,” Jabareen said. He added that Israel should define itself as a democratic, multicultural state in which “its two national groups, Jews and Arabs,” have a right to self-determination.