A First: UN Body Calls on Israel to Repeal Racist “Nation-State Law”

For the first time a United Nations body has called on Israel to amend or abrogate its Nation-State Law in order to comply with an international human rights convention the state ratified in 1991. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) released on October 18 the document Concluding observations on the fourth periodic report of Israel which includes a list of concerns, recommendations, and actions that Israel must take in order to comply with its convention obligations. These findings and recommendations mark the first time that a UN monitoring committee has determined that the Jewish Nation-State Law, enacted in July 2018, does not comply with a human rights treaty ratified by Israel – and calls on Israel to either amend or repeal the law.

In the wake of the CESCR report, Attorney Myssana Morany from Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – sent a letter on Wednesday, November 6, to Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit calling on him to express his opposition to the Jewish Nation-State Law in a response he is slated to submit to the Israel’s Supreme Court by Sunday, November 17.

In its October 18 report, the UN CESCR raised deep concerns about the discriminatory effect of the law on Israel’s non-Jewish population, including their rights of self-determination, non-discrimination, and cultural rights. The UN CESCR also called on Israel to respond to the committee’s concerns about Israel’s aggravation of already-existing ethnic segregation as well as its increasing budgetary discrimination which the committee noted in other concluding observations – particular with regard to the Arab-Bedouin population in the Naqab (Negev) region.

Shortly after the ratification of the Jewish Nation-State Law by the Knesset in the summer of 2018, Adalah filed a petition with the Israeli Supreme Court against the legislation in its own name as well as on behalf of all of the Arab political leadership in Israel – The High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, the National Committee of Arab Mayors, the Joint List parliamentary faction.

In Attorney Morany’s letter last week to Attorney General Mandelblit, Adalah maintains that the UN CESCR’s recent review strengthens the arguments made by the rights organization and its joint plaintiffs in the petition that was submitted to the Supreme Court on August 7, 2018, which maintain that the Jewish Nation-State Law contradicts the key principles of human rights as enshrined in international treaties, including those in the UN Charter.

Adalah Attorney Morany spoke at the NGO’s briefing towards the CESCR’s review of Israel at United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, on September 30, 2019. There she emphasized that Israel’s policy in the Negev is one of forced displacement and forced urbanization guided by the false and misleading depiction of the region as a vast empty space that must be used only for settlement of Israel’s Jewish citizens.