Israel PM defends law in face of Druze outrage

Deluge of opposition to Israel’s nation state bill builds with new court petition

Druze army vets campaign against Israel’s Jewish state law | The Fresno Bee

Palestinian leaders in Israel petitioned the High Court on Tuesday over the new Jewish nation-state law, the latest addition to Israel's Basic Law, that passed in the Knesset last month.

Members of Israel's almost 150,000 strong Druze community and representatives of Israel's Bedouins, both minorities known for their loyal service in Israel's military, have already lodged legal petitions to the court.

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.

It also describes the building of Jewish settlements as being in the Israeli national interest.

"The real question is who is for and who is against the Declaration of Independence, and why is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against the Declaration of Independence?" Israeli political leaders, however, had argued that the Jewish nature of the state needed to be enshrined in the Basic Law, the state's constitutional law.

Arab citizens, who make up some 17.5 percent of Israel's more than eight million population, have strongly criticized the law, particularly those from Israel's 150,000-strong Druze community, who, unlike other Arabs who may volunteer, are subject to compulsory service in the military or police alongside Jewish Israelis.

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Adalah, a rights group for Palestinian citizens of Israel, submitted a petition against the law on behalf of Palestinian leaders in Israel, including the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, the National Committee of Arab Mayors and the Joint List members of the Knesset. Thus to argue that the nation-state law is undemocratic because it doesn't mention equality or minority rights is like arguing that the U.S. Constitution is undemocratic because Articles I and II confer broad powers on the legislature and executive without mentioning the protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

Livni apologized to members of the Druze community "not just for the problematic and discriminatory law, but for the fact that he (Netanyahu) didn't bother showing up here for the discussion, to talk, to stand here and give the answers he owes not just you, the Druze community, but to the entire State of Israel".

On Sunday, two Bedouin former IDF officers also called on the High Court to either change the formulation of the law so it applies equally to all Israelis or abolish it completely.

"This morning when I woke up to return to my base, I asked myself why?"

The petition says that the law is "racist, massively harmful to fundamental human rights and contravenes global human rights norms, especially those forbidding laws that constitute a racist constitution".

"This country that I, along with my two brothers, and my father, served with dedication, objective and love of our homeland - in the end, what do we get, we are second-class citizens", he wrote.

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