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‘Joint Arab List’ Proposes Law to Recognize ‘Palestinians of 48’ National Minority in Israel | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Joint (Arab) List MK Jamal Zahalka speaks during a plenum session in the assembly

Tel Aviv- In a new precedent, the Joint Arab List bloc in the Knesset submitted a proposal on Wednesday in a bid to recognize the Palestinians of 1948 occupied territories Green Line as a national minority, having collective rights according to the International Law on the basis of full civil equality for them.

National Democratic Alliance in the Joint Arab List MK Jamal Zahalka submitted this proposal, saying: “Law in Israel does not recognize Arabs as national minority, and it does not grant them collective and national rights. They are treated according to their religious groups and are referred to as ‘minorities,’ ‘not Jewish’ or ‘Muslims, Christians, Druze and Bedouins’ without mentioning that they are Arabs or belong to Arab-Palestinian national minority.”

Zahalka added that the bonds of the bid are derived from the international treaty on the rights of minority groups and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among other international treaties.

The proposal raised a wave of rage as Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) vilified in the Knesset plenum this proposal along with the Israeli Knesset, which voted against it.

“The proposed law wishes to innovate a new constitutional hierarchy in which the Arab citizens of Israel will have a collective national veto right over decisions by state institutions,” claimed Shaked in her opening words.

Shaked added: “In the limitation clause which is characteristic of basic laws, the laws’ proponents intentionally seek to make a dramatic change. Whereas regarding the basic law: Human dignity and liberty, the law emphasizes that laws which harm people’s basic rights for a necessary goal would still comply with Israel’s values as a Jewish and democratic state, the present proposal speaks of democracy and intentionally omits Israel’s status as a Jewish state.”

Shaked turned to the Arab MKs and said “Ben Gurion would turn over in his grave if he knew of this law. My friends who proposed this law: You are confused. This will never happen. The national definition of the State of Israel is the one and only state of the Jewish nation.”

“National rights for Arab minorities can be attained in our neighboring Arab countries. Whoever wishes to realize his national rights as an Arab is invited to leave to these countries. I can’t promise that he will continue to enjoy the conditions he receives in our villa,” she further stated.

For his part, MK Zahalka, responded to Shaked’s words by saying: “I didn’t think that the justice minister would tell me to leave the country as if she is the master and we are her slaves. We are citizens and will fight for full citizenship and for our full rights despite the efforts of racists and fascists like Shaked.”

Member of the Joint Arab List and 18 MKs from the left-wing Meretz Party voted in favor of the bid in the 120-member Knesset while the rest of parliament blocs voted against.

The Palestinians of 1948 Occupied Palestine are the Palestinian citizens who have remained on the land, which was seized by the Israeli occupation forces in 1948.

Constituting around 20 percent of Israeli citizens, the Palestinians of 1948 occupied land have been subjected to racist laws and discriminatory politics pursued by the Israeli occupation government and authorities.

They face systematic discrimination in land rights, housing, welfare, education, political expression and more.