Arab MKs said working with PA to condemn Israel at UN for nation-state law

Combined effort intended to ‘sully Israel and damage its image’ ahead of next month’s UN General Assembly, with comparisons to apartheid

Arab Israelis carry banners during a demonstration to protest against the nation-state law in Tel Aviv on August 11, 2018. (AFP/ Ahmad GHARABLI)
Arab Israelis carry banners during a demonstration to protest against the nation-state law in Tel Aviv on August 11, 2018. (AFP/ Ahmad GHARABLI)

Arab Knesset members are working with the Palestinian Authority to condemn Israel at the United Nations for passing the controversial nation-state law that enshrines its status as a Jewish state, according to a Sunday report.

A number of lawmakers from the Joint (Arab) List, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour, and other senior Palestinian officials are attempting to convince the UN to advance a resolution next month that likens the quasi-constitutional legislation to apartheid, Hadashot news reported.

The timing of the bid comes just ahead of the General Assembly, which will be attended by world leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli diplomats reportedly discovered that several Arab Knesset members, including lawmakers Aida Touma-Sliman and Yousef Jabareen, met recently with senior UN officials, including UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo, to discuss the nation-state law. They are seeking to claim in a UN resolution that the legislation is reminiscent of apartheid laws, and hope to gain support for international condemnation of Israel, the report said.

The UN officials reportedly asked Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon for a response.

On Sunday evening, Danon reportedly wrote to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein informing him that Arab MKs were “working against the State of Israel” and “causing great damage.”

Arab Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman in the Knesset, June 3, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

“Over the past two years we have witnessed a close partnership between the MKs and Palestinian representatives in the UN working with the goal of inciting against and defaming the State of Israel and the IDF on the UN stage,” Danon wrote. “The Palestinian representatives, along with the MKs from the Arab parties are planning steps which are intended to sully Israel and damage its image through incitement and lies.”

Danon condemned the Arab Israeli lawmakers for the initiative and accused them of cynically taking advantage of their positions as official representatives of the nation to harm Israel internationally.

Edelstein tweeted in response to the television report, saying: “Once again, Israeli MKs are undermining the state. MKs from the Joint List who receive a salary from the state and have all the parliamentary tools at their disposal nevertheless have the audacity to besmirch our name in the world.”

“Anyone who cooperates with the Palestinian Authority against Israel must ask himself whether his place is in the Palestinian parliament or the Israeli parliament,” added Edelstein.

Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen attends a committee meeting in the Knesset, December 13, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The nation-state law, passed by the Knesset July 19, for the first time anchors Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people,” and says “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” It also defines Arabic as a language bearing a “special” status, effectively downgrading it from its de facto status as Israel’s second official language, though it cryptically also says the status of Arabic remains untouched.

The law was forcefully condemned by Israel’s Arab citizens, who make up some 20 percent of the population, as well as the country’s Druze minority.

The government has argued the new law merely enshrines the country’s existing character, and that Israel’s democratic nature and provisions for equality are already anchored in other semi-constitutional legislation.

But critics, both at home and abroad, say it undermines Israel’s commitment to equality for all its citizens outlined in the Declaration of Independence.

The legislation was passed as one of the so-called Basic Laws, which, similar to a constitution, underpin Israel’s legal system and are more difficult to repeal than regular laws.

Several petitions against the law have been filed to the High Court, demanding it be overturned on constitutional grounds. Druze leaders, including three MKs, were first to demand the High Court strike down the “extremist” legislation, saying it anchored discrimination against minorities in Israeli law. 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.

Most Popular
read more: