A coordinated effort of MKs from the Joint List and Meretz to repeal the racist “Nation-State Law” by bringing three separate bills to a Knesset vote was defeated in Israel’s parliament on Wednesday, July 15.
Following its passage two years ago by the previous far-right government’s coalition as a quasi-constitutional Basic Law, the legislation was heavily criticized from several quarters. Opponents had argued that the law endangers democracy in Israel in general and specifically the rights of Arab citizens, because it codifies exclusive “Jewish national rights and symbols” within the State of Israel, omits mentioning democracy and the principle of equality of all citizens, and defines the importance of “Jewish settlement” throughout “The Land of Israel” (Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories). The 20th Knesset adopted the law on July 19, 2018 by a vote of 62 in favor, 55 against, and 2 abstentions.
During latest election campaign, Blue & White had pledged to amend the law to include explicit language guaranteeing the equal rights of Arab citizens while still retaining the clause asserting “the State of Israel’s status as the nation state of the Jewish people where it exercises [exclusive] self-determination.” The Joint List and Meretz both categorically rejected Blue & White’s proposed election campaign compromise, and sought on Wednesday of this week to entirely repeal the racist and undemocratic law by bringing before the Knesset three separate bills. Each of these was defeated by pluralities of either 50 or 51 MKs against to 18 or19 MKs in favor.
Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg told the Knesset plenum that Blue & White had promised to amend the law and, in the absence of any effort to make such amendments, challenged that party’s MKs to back the repeal of the law. Following the three votes, MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash – Joint List) said that the “racist Nation-State Law belongs on the trash heap of history,” and that it “officially anchored racism and discrimination,” in Israel.
Related: Posts of the Nation-State Law