Published: Mon, August 13, 2018

Arab Israelis rally against Jewish nation-state law

Arab Israelis rally against Jewish nation-state law

Thousands of protesters rallied in Tel Aviv on Saturday against Israel's new law declaring it the nation-state of the Jewish people, legislation that has angered the country's Arab minority and drawn criticism overseas.

"Regarding the Palestinian flags, they can protest however they like, but I cannot attend a protest if I don't agree with the message", she said in the joint interview with Rozin.

Benjamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Sunday that Palestinian flags "flying in the heart of Tel Aviv" was "conclusive evidence" that many protesters oppose Israel's existence, and proves the law is necessary.

Opposition lawmaker and leader of Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid, also commented on the rally and the Palestinian flags, saying "I wonder what would have happened to those who would have tried to march in the center of Ramallah with Israeli flags".

People march during a protest against the Jewish nation bill in Tel Aviv. Netanyahu asserted. "We heard slogans in Arabic including "By blood and fire we will clear Palestine".

Several clauses contained in the law that passed last month are sources of concern, especially since the text is part of Israel's so-called basic laws - a de facto constitution.

Largely declarative, the law was enacted just after the 70th anniversary of the birth of the state of Israel.

The presence of Palestinian flags at the rally also drew criticism from Jewish Home MK Uri Ariel, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, and Likud ministers Ofir Akunis and Miri Regev.


Ayman Odeh, an Arab member of the Israeli parliament, told The Associated Press: "This is the first time that tens of thousands of Arabs have come to Tel Aviv with Jewish democratic groups. Yes to Equality." Protesters waved Israeli and Palestinian flags, wore kufiyas, and held signs condemning the law as enshrining apartheid.

"We have never dared to challenge the Jewish identity of the state, and no one can teach us what sacrifice is, and no one can preach loyalty to us", Tarif said.

The bill has been rejected by Palestinians and members of the global community, which has called the bill an apartheid law, because it recognizes the right to self-determination as an exclusive right for the country's Jewish majority, and downgrades the status of Arabic, from official language to "special status".

Amos Shoken, publisher of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, was also present at the rally and urged Arab Israelis "not to despair" and to continue to mobilise against the controversial law.

The government has argued the new law merely anchors the country's existing character, and that Israel's democratic nature and provisions for equality are already rooted in existing constitutional legislation. But critics say it undercuts Israel's democratic values and sidelines the country's non-Jewish population, namely the Arab community that makes up 20 percent of the country.

It has prompted particular outrage from Israel's Druze minority, whose members say the law's provisions render them second-class citizens.

Last week, some 50,000 Israelis demonstrated in Rabin Square against the bill, in a protest led by the country's Druze minority.

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