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Israeli minister warns High Court of revoking Nationality Law

Israeli minister warns High Court of revoking Nationality Law

On Tuesday, Arab-Israeli leaders filed a petition with the country's Supreme Court against the nation-state law.

Regarding the collective rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel and the status of the Arabic language, attorneys argue in the petition that "the Nation-State Law - in violation of global law - does not recognize any collective right of the Arabs as a homeland minority, as opposed to enshrining broad exclusive collective rights for the Jewish population, as if Jews were a minority requiring special protection".

In a almost 60-page petition, the petitioners maintain that the Israeli Supreme Court must annul the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law as it is racist legislation that contradicts all norms of global law.

"This law has all the characteristics of apartheid", the statement asserts. "There is also no single constitution in the world that does not include the right to equality for all its citizens and residents".

The law, passed by parliament last month, defines Israel as the Jewish nation-state and downgrades the Arabic language to a "special status".

Livni called for early elections and for replacing the nation-state law with Israel's Declaration of Independence, which pledges to "ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex".

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday defended a law which has outraged Israel's Druze minority, saying it would help prevent Palestinians and illegal migrants from seeking Israeli citizenship.

But Minister Ze'ev Elkin spoke on behalf of the coalition, and pointed the finger back at Livni for apparently leaving early and for her party's part in the original version of the nation state law. It also makes Hebrew the country's only official language. Vocal opposition has also come from the global community and Jewish groups overseas.

Protesters wave Israeli and Druze flags at a demonstration in Tel Aviv against the nation-state law, on August 4, 2018.

The petition also claimed the law explicitly rejects Palestinian national rights, which, when applied to areas claimed by Israel beyond the Green Line in East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, constitutes a violation of the laws of occupation contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The legislation was passed as a so-called basic law, which, similar to a constitution, underpin Israel's legal system and are more hard to repeal than regular laws. "The High Court justices have to interpret the laws in accordance with the Basic Laws", explaining that she doesn't believe the majority of the High Court would take such a step. "I very much hope that this doesn't happen and I don't believe it will happen".

The Israeli High Court has made no moves to overturn Basic Law legislation to date, prompting fears that the petitions will achieve little more than media coverage.