Druze MKs petition High Court against Jewish state law
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Druze MKs petition High Court against Jewish state law

Lawmakers from coalition and opposition say legislation is a 'spit in the face' to minority group that 'gives of its blood and sons for the state'

Kulanu parliament member Akram Hasson during his swearing-in as a member of the Knesset in Jerusalem on February 1, 2016. (Issac Harari/Flash90)
Kulanu parliament member Akram Hasson during his swearing-in as a member of the Knesset in Jerusalem on February 1, 2016. (Issac Harari/Flash90)

Israeli Druze leaders, including three Knesset members, petitioned the High Court of Justice on Sunday against the Jewish nation-state law passed by the Knesset on Thursday, saying it was an “extreme” act that discriminated against the country’s minorities.

The lawmakers came from across the political spectrum — from the coalition, MK Hamed Amar of the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party and MK Akram Hasson of the centrist Kulanu party, and from the opposition, MK Salah Sa’ad of the Labor party, currently represented in the Knesset by the center-left Zionist Union.

All three served in Israel’s security forces and have been active in Zionist organizations.

The law, passed by the Knesset in a 62-55 vote early Thursday, enshrines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” in its quasi-constitutional Basic Laws, defines the establishment of Jewish communities as being in the national interest, and defines Arabic as a language bearing a “special” status in the state, effectively a downgrade from its de facto status as a second official language in state bodies.

“We have joined forces across across party lines because this is an extremist move by the government against Arabic speakers, and continues the discrimination against Druze settlements and minorities, which is now anchored in a Basic Law,” Sa’ad told the Ynet news site.

“For the Druze public, which gives of its blood and its sons for the State of Israel, the nation-state law is spitting in our face.”

Co-petitioners who have also lent their names to the appeal include the mayors of major Druze towns, including Peki’in, Yarka, Bet Jan and Hurfeish.

It was not clear on what grounds the court could rule against the law.

Arab citizens account for some 21 percent of Israel’s more than 8.8 million population and have long complained of discrimination.

Critics in Israel and abroad, including Diaspora Jews, have fiercely derided the legislation as discriminatory and unnecessary.

Members of the government praised the passage of the law on Thursday morning, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it “a pivotal moment in the annals of Zionism and the State of Israel.”

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