Critics say the law further reduces the status of the Palestinian minority, which accounts for 21% of the Israeli population.
A controversial law defining Israel as a Jewish nation-state was supported by the Supreme Court, which rejected opponents’ claims that it discriminated against minorities.
In Thursday’s ruling, the court admitted that the so-called “Nation-State Law” was flawed. But it stated that it “does not deny Israel’s democratic character as outlined in other laws.”
Proponents of the 2018 law claim that the law only reflects the existing Jewish characteristics of Israel.
Critics say this further reduces the status of the Palestinian minority in Israel, who make up about 20% of the country’s population.
Adalah, a Palestinian rights organization trying to overturn the law, said the court supports a law that “completely excludes those who do not belong to the majority group”. It stated that it would “continue to work internationally to expose the discriminatory and racist nature of the law.”
Palestinian citizens in Israel have the right to vote and are well represented in many industries, but they are still subject to widespread discrimination in areas such as housing and the job market.
The law was approved by the Knesset or Parliament in July 2018. It defines Israel as the “national state” of the Jews and adds that “the realization of the right of national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to Israel. Jews.”
It also downgraded Arabic from an official language to a language with a “special status”.
The passage of the law aroused strong opposition from the Palestinian minority in the country, especially among the Druze Israelis serving in the military.
Some Palestinian rights groups and civil society organizations appealed to the courts for the repeal of the law. A panel of 11 judges is the largest group in the court to hear the case.
In its 10-1 decision, the court stated that “all citizens of the state, including minorities, have equal rights.”
It stated that the right of national self-determination “does not deny recognized personal or cultural rights.”
The judges also stated that the law did not detract from the status of Arabic or preclude “enhancing its status.”
The only Palestinian judge of the court, George Karra, was the only opponent, calling the law discriminatory.
The “essence” of Israel
The leader of the Nationalist New Hope Party and Minister of Justice Gideon Sar welcomed the ruling on Thursday.
He said that the law “determines the nature and characteristics of Israel as a Jewish nation state” and “does not violate the personal rights of any Israeli citizen.”
Yuval Shani, vice chairman of the independent think tank Israel Democracy Institute and legal expert, said that the law is largely iconic and provides a constitutional “background” for judges to consider when weighing other cases.
But he said that the ruling made it clear that other laws must also be considered, such as equality and minority rights.
“Basically, the court said that when future legislation is before us, you must explore these issues on a case-by-case basis,” he said.