Irish President Expresses “Deep Concerns” over Nation-State Law

The President of the Republic of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, welcomed Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) to the Áras an Uachtaráin presidential residence in Dublin on Friday, November 16. During their meeting, President Higgins expressed “deep concerns” over the racist “Nation-State Law” passed by the Knesset on July 19 of this year.

On Thursday, Communist MK Touma-Sliman addressed a public gathering in Dublin on the passage of the apartheid-like “Nation-State Law” in the context of the growth of rightwing extremism in Israel’s domestic and foreign policy, and the efforts to resist this trend.

Irish President Higgins and Hadash MK Touma-Sliman, on Friday at Áras an Uachtaráin, the official presidential residence in Dublin, Ireland

Irish President Higgins and Hadash MK Touma-Sliman, on Friday at Áras an Uachtaráin, the official presidential residence in Dublin, Ireland (Photo: Al Ittihad)

Following a special request for action issued by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, four United Nations special rapporteurs (SR) sent a communiqué to Israeli authorities on November 2 giving the state a 60-day deadline to respond to their grave concerns regarding the “Nation-State Law” adopted by the Knesset back in July. The four UN representatives include: Karima Bennoune, SR in the field of cultural rights; Michael Lynk SR on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967; Fernand de Varennes, SR on minority issues; and E. Tendayi Achiume, SR on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

The UN’s special rapporteurs emphasized in their communiqué that they fear that “the law as adopted offers a legal basis for the pre-eminence of Jewish people over non-Jewish citizens who are members of other ethno-religious and linguistic minority groups, and creates a legal order and an environment that could potentially lead to further discriminatory legislative and/or policy actions, which contravene the international human rights obligations of Israel.”

In light of the passage of “Nation-State Law,” the special rapporteurs further expressed concern, regarding Israel’s commitments to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which both stipulate the right of all peoples to self-determination.

Among a more extensive series of requests, the special rapporteurs called on Israel to:

  • “Indicate the impact of Article 5 of the Law on the current immigration procedures in Israel, on how Jewish and non-Jewish immigrants are dealt with under current procedures, and how such provision may affect the immigration status determination of non-Jews”;
  • “Provide further information on Article 7, and particularly whether it will or not contribute to potential segregation on the basis of ethnicity or religion, and whether it is an endorsement to develop Jewish settlements, including in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in direct violation of international law”;
  • “Clarify the consequences of the new status of the Arabic language, and the impact if any on its use for official purposes, including on public signs, in public institutions including social and health services and in the education system.”

The special rapporteurs noted that the State of Israel failed to respond to an earlier query sent on June 21, 2017 by the UN special rapporteurs concerning a draft bill of what was to eventually be adopted as the Jewish “Nation-State Law.”

Adalah, representing all of the Arab political leadership in Israel – The High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens in Israel, the Joint List and the National Committee for Arab Mayors, filed a petition against the “Nation-State Basic Law” on August 7 with the Israeli Supreme Court. The petition demands that the Court cancel the law as it contradicts fundamental international human rights norms in place since the end of World War II; negates almost 20 years of Supreme Court case law concerning the right to equality and land rights; and constitutes an abuse of power by the majority in the Knesset.

Related: Thursday in Dublin, MK Touma-Sliman To Address Public Meeting