Opposition to Israel nation-state law grows

Israel PM defends law in face of Druze outrage

Greenberg addressed critics of the law who say that it infringes on religious freedom, saying that the law "relates only to the national rights of the Jewish people and does not address religious questions or prescribe an official religion".

"The accusations about the new law's effects on Israeli democracy have no connection to the actual content or context of the law", Sara Greenberg wrote in an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post. By explicitly declaring that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people alone, it totally excludes Palestinian citizens of Israel, who comprise 20 percent of the population of the state, and who are a homeland minority group.

An Arab rights group in Israel has filed a petition with the Supreme Court against the country's new and controversial Jewish state law.

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who has been pushing to curb the powers of Israel's Supreme Court, has said that if the high court strikes the law down, it will be an "earthquake" that would begin "a war between branches of government".

The Nationality Law enshrines the status of the State of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

The petition was submitted 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, and in the name of Adalah - against the Knesset, according to an Adalah press release. "There is also no single constitution in the world that does not include the right to equality for all its citizens and residents". The law was first proposed in the Knesset in August 2011.

Tens of thousands of Druze Israelis, along with Jewish supporters, thronged a Tel Aviv square on Saturday night in a rare demonstration against government policy by the typically muted community. "The Knesset is the constituent assembly, which defines and determines the Basic Law".

The Israeli High Court has made no moves to overturn Basic Law legislation to date, prompting fears that the petitions will achieve little more than media coverage.

Some of the criticism [of the law] is justified; a law that manages to unite virtually the entire Druze community against it, despite this community's longstanding support for Israel as a Jewish state in principle, clearly wasn't drafted with sufficient care, as even the heads of two parties that backed the law-Jewish Home's Naftali Bennett and Kulanu's Moshe Kaḥlon-now admit.

Greenberg noted that prior to the passage of the nation state law as a Basic Law with quasi-constitutional status there were laws to protect individual freedoms and to define the various branches of government, but despite the fact that the "open, free and democratic nature of Israel was enshrined in law" there was none "defining the identity and objective of the state".

The wave of criticism piles pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, already beset by corruption allegations.

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