Druze army vets campaign against Israel's Jewish state law

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

Arabs have strongly criticised the legislation, particularly those from Israel's 130,000-strong Druze community, who say it makes them second-class citizens even though, unlike other Arabs, they are subject to compulsory service in the military or police alongside Jewish Israelis.

Nevertheless, both sides in this dispute agree on one thing: each Basic Law is merely one article in Israel's constitution or constitution-to-be.

The nation-state law does not "contradict or supersede the basic laws that protect and guarantee individual rights of all citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender", she wrote.

She said that while Hebrew has been defined by Basic Law as the official state language, the new law for the first time enshrines Arabic as a language with "special status", and notes the law also states that "the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect will not be harmed".

An NGO that represents Israel's Arab minority petitioned Israel's Supreme Court on Tuesday against a controversial "Jewish Nation-State" law approved last month by Israel's parliament.

"It is no accident that this law doesn't mention the word "equality" once", said Ayman Odeh, an Arab lawmaker who heads the Joint List, the Arab bloc in the Knesset, which backed the petition.

"Any law that denies Palestinians their civil and national rights is racist, colonialist and illegitimate", it said.

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Other than now in Israel, "there is no constitution in the world today containing a clause that determines that the state belongs to one ethnic group or that a given state is exclusive to a certain ethnic group", said Tuesday's petition, which was submitted by the Israeli human rights group Adalah and also signed by the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel and the National Committee of Arab Mayors.

Israel's justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, said on Sunday that any move by the High Court to overturn the nation-state law would lead to "an natural disaster, a war between the authorities", Haaretz reported. The law states that "the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people".

Tens of thousands of Druze and their supporters rallied in central Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest against the legislation.

Druze leaders, including three MKs, were first to demand the High Court strike down the "extremist" law.

The legislation was passed as a so-called basic law, which, similar to a constitution, underpin Israel's legal system and are more hard to repeal than regular laws.

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.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been trying to placate the Druze with a package of benefits, but efforts to negotiate it have stalled.

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