Palestinians to join Arab Israelis in protest strike over Nation State Law

Palestinians to join Arab Israelis in protest strike over Nation State Law

Residents of West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem to demonstrate Monday in solidarity with Arab Israelis, who say legislation turns them into second class citizens

People take part at a protest march against the proposed Nation-state Law in Tel Aviv on July 14, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
People take part at a protest march against the proposed Nation-state Law in Tel Aviv on July 14, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem called a general strike for Monday in solidarity with Arab Israelis protesting Israel’s controversial Nation State Law.

According to Reuters, Palestinian businesses and schools are set remain closed throughout the day. Monday marks the last day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, or Tabernacles, during which Israeli schools and many businesses are closed regardless of the strike.

Mohammed Barakeh, a former Israeli MK and the head of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee  said the strike had been called in coordination with groups in the Palestinian territories.

“The strike is a message to the world that the cause of apartheid and racism is something that should not only be dealt with internally but it should be talked about globally,” Barakeh told Reuters.

Arab Israeli leaders have called on members of their community to strike against the Nation State Law. Critics argue that the law contravenes the basis of Israel’s legal system as well as its Declaration of Independence by enshrining inequality among its citizens.

Arab Israelis and activists protest against the ‘Jewish Nation-State law’ in Tel Aviv on August 11, 2018 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Many Israelis and some in the international community have condemned the legislation, which they say turns minorities into second-class citizens.

The Netanyahu government says it does not harm anybody’s rights and the new law merely enshrines the country’s existing character, and that Israel’s democratic nature and provisions for equality are already anchored in existing legislation.

Multiple petitions against the law have already been filed with the High Court of Justice by Druze, Arab and Bedouin leaders, rights groups, academics, and the Meretz and Joint List political parties. Several more petitions are currently being drafted.

Earlier this month, a delegation of Arab Israeli lawmakers from the Joint List met with the head of the Arab League in Cairo to discuss the Jewish nation-state law and its implications for a peace deal with the Palestinians.

The nation-state law passed by the Knesset in July enshrines 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 with a “special” status, effectively downgrading it from its de facto status as Israel’s second official language, though it cryptically stipulates that “this clause does not harm the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect.”

Protesters against the nation-state law march in Tel Aviv on August 11, some of them carrying Palestinian flags (Hadashot TV screenshot)

Its passage into the law books has prompted particular outrage from Israel’s Druze minority, whose members — many of which serve in the Israeli army — say the law’s provisions render them second-class citizens.

Last month, 30,000 Israeli Arabs and Jews demonstrated against the legislation in Tel Aviv. An earlier, similar rally of the Druze community drew around 50,000 people.

Protesters wave Israeli and Druze flags at a demonstration against the nation-state law, in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on August 4, 2018. (Luke Tress / Times of Israel staff)

Netanyahu has said a government team will review ways to strengthen the state’s ties to minorities, but has stressed he opposes altering the controversial legislation.

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