Israel’s Nation State Law

The Supreme Court of Israel recently assembled to hear a special petition filed by Arab-Israeli citizens to scrap the Nation State Law.

About the Nation State Law

  • The Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People is informally known as the Nation State Law. It is one of the fourteen constitutional laws or basic laws of Israel. The law permits Israel to identify itself as a nation-state of Jewish people. It promotes the self-determination rights of the Jewish people. It was enacted in 2018.
  • The law downgraded Arabic language from the status of official language.
  • The law allows development of Jewish settlements in Israel.
  • The law defines the symbols of Israel such as state flag, state emblem, state anthem (Hatikvah).
  • According to the law, the language of Israel is Hebrew. On the other hand, 20% of the population speak Arabic.
  • The law declared Jerusalem as “Whole and United” and capital of Israel. This is contradictory to Israel-Palestine conflict.
  • This law gained constitutional status. Israel has no constitution. However, it has a set of basic laws that have constitutional status.

Impacts of the law

The law discriminates against the Arab minority in the country. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, 74.2% of population were declared Jewish, 17.8% were declared Muslim, 2% were declared Christian and 1.6% were declared Druze.

Israel-Palestine conflict

The law undermines peace process with Palestine. The Israel-Palestine conflict is an on-going conflict. It is rooted over land claimed by Jews as their biblical birth right. In 1897, Jews began a movement called the Zionist movement to escape the persecution and establish their own state. The World Zionist Organization was created to advocate for the establishment of Jewish homeland in Palestine. This resulted in large number of Jews in Palestine and they began to buy lands and settle down. In 1916, Palestine came under British control. This led to the division of Ottoman Turkish empire. After Hitler gained power in Germany, thousands resettled in Palestine from Europe. Arabs saw this as a threat to their homeland and fought bitterly.

In 1947, the British Government referred the issue to UN to split the land between the two countries. With this, the Jewish people declared independence of Israel.

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