Members of Israel’s far-right governing coalition and of the Zionist opposition vociferously criticized Hadash lawmakers on Monday, August 27, for seeking United Nations intervention against Israel’s racist Nation-State Law. Leading the charge was cabinet minister Yariv Levin, who called to charge the MKs with treason.
Hadash Lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman, of the Joint List, asked the UN Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, last Thursday, August 23, to advance the possibility of obtaining international sanctions against the law passed weeks ago. Tens of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets of Tel Aviv in two mass protests till now to condemn the law.
The UN’s special rapporteur on minority issues recently said he would examine the possibility of launching an investigation into the law, in answer to an appeal by another Joint List lawmaker, MK Yousef Jabareen (Hadash).
Minister Yariv Levin said on Monday that Israeli Arab lawmakers who turned to the United Nations over the recently passed law should “be tried for treason.” MK Yoav Kish (Likud) asked the Knesset House Committee to amend ethics rules to enable sanctioning “any lawmaker cooperating with an international group against Israel.” Kish charged that “Hadash Knesset members take advantage of their status as members of the Israeli parliament to deal blows to Israel at home and abroad.”
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz wrote on Facebook: “How can members of the Joint List be Knesset members and act against the state at the UN and everywhere else? If they had an iota of fairness they would move to represent Gaza or one of our other neighboring ‘democracies.'” Housing Minister Yoav Galant tweeted that any “elected officials taking measures against the State of Israel crosses a red line. There is no room in the Knesset for those who act against Israel’s interests. The time has come for the judicial system to permit outlawing these dangerous extremists and removing them from the Knesset.”
Opposition lawmaker also criticized the Hadash lawmakers. Avi Gabbay, Chairman of the Zionist Union, accused the Joint List of smearing Israel’s name and threatened, “We will continue to fight against this phenomenon.” Opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) said: “We will stand up against the attempt by Arab lawmakers to act against Israel and get it condemned at the UN and we will fight within Israel to preserve it as a Jewish, democratic state.”
On the left, MK Mossi Raz of Meretz criticized Gabbay’s and Livni’s statements: “The Zionist Union has forgotten what it means to be on the left.” Raz accused the party of “dizzily falling in line with right-wing spin. You’d be better off focusing on being leftists and proposing a real alternative to left-wing voters instead of trying to be further to the right than Bennett.”
The Joint List Chairman, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) also responded in a tweet: “Nothing is secret. The law of Jewish supremacy institutionalizes segregation, discrimination and racism. We said this in the Knesset and we shall say the same to the world. This is political discourse at is best. The Nation-State Law deals a mortal blow to the equality of citizens of a democracy. We shall fight against this on all fronts.”
“If the State of Israel has nothing to hide, why is everyone so upset?” MK Jabareen wrote on Facebook. “Israel has to be made to be ashamed of the Nation-State Law and its racist legislation in front of the democratic world, which promotes equality for all citizens. The extent of our international activity runs as deep as Israeli racism.”
Jabareen, who, in addition to the UN has also appealed to the International Parliamentary Union and the OECD to warn of the difficult blow the law, has dealt to the Arab-Palestinian minority in Israel, said, “Netanyahu’s government is not above international law… The rights of national minorities have long since turned from being a domestic issue to a universal one. Both the UN and Europe have clear instructions in international charters dedicated to defending minority rights.”
MK Touma-Sliman said of her appeal to the UN against the Nation-State Law that, the legislation “makes Israel an official apartheid state even within the Green Line, so it is not an internal Israeli matter, but rather a law that requires strong and urgent intervention by the international community and the UN.
On Sunday, August 26, Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon charged that Hadash MK’s were joining representatives from the Palestinian Authority to lobby the Unite Nations General Assembly to pass a resolution against Israel. In response, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein sharply criticized Hadash MK’s. “Again MKs in the Israeli Knesset are undermining the state. Members of Knesset from the Joint List who receive salaries from the state and merit all the parliamentary tools, still dare to discredit our name in the world. Those who cooperate with the Palestinian Authority against Israel should ask themselves whether their place is in the Palestinian or Israeli parliament,” he stated.
On Sunday, August 26, Hadashot news reported that lawmakers from the Joint List, Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour, and other senior Palestinian officials were attempting to convince the UN to advance a resolution next month at the UN General Assembly that likens the quasi-constitutional legislation — which enshrines Israel’s status as a Jewish state — to apartheid.
MK Touma-Sliman on Monday denied she had contacted top UN officials to promote a condemnation of Israel, but said in light of the reactions, she will consider doing so. “Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon was surprised to discover we don’t hesitate to tell it as it is: The Nation-State Law is an apartheid law,” she said in a statement. “Apparently he [Danon] hasn’t been following Knesset discussions. We said out loud that the law is reminiscent of dark dictatorships, enshrining discrimination and racial separation, and that we would battle it in the Knesset, the Supreme Court, the streets and before the international community.”
Touma-Sliman’s Communist Party member comrade, MK Dov Khenin, slammed the far-right governing coalition and the Zionist opposition saying, “The attacks on my fellow Joint List members for their meetings around the world on the issue of the Nation-State Law is anti-democratic and hypocritical.”