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High Court Rejects ACRI's Call to Repeal Nation-State Law

The Association for Civil Rights petitioned the High Court of Justice on December 23, 2018, demanding the repeal of the “Nation State Law.”

In the petition, we argued:

  • The law enshrines the institutional and ongoing discrimination against the Arab public in Israel an official policy—and even to the utmost degree as a Basic Law, therefore enjoying special protection.

  • The law makes no reference to the democratic character of the State of Israel nor to the status of minorities in the country.

  • It fails to mention any commitment to ensuring the individual and collective rights of all citizens of the State of Israel. This is particularly striking in light of the position that collective rights in Israel, especially the right to self-determination, are reserved only for Jewish citizens.

The petition included a comprehensive review of the ongoing institutional discrimination against the Arab population in Israel in all areas of life: education, land and housing, budgeting resource allocation. We argued that the Nation State Law will further entrench and exacerbate this institutionalized discrimination, and that practices and laws previously rejected by the state will now become legal.

Our petition was attached to other petitions filed against the “Nation State Law” and was heard before a panel of 11 judges.

On July 8, 2021, the High Court provided a ruling and refrained from ordering the repeal of the law, but in its interpretation, the Court largely emptied the law of its racist consequences.

Atty Dan Yakir, Chief Legal Counsel for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, stated in response to the High Court of Justice verdict on the Nation-State Law:

"The Nation-State Law was enacted with the intention of harming the Arab minority in Israel and establishing the status of Arabs as second-class citizens in the country, and it was fitting that the law be repealed as Justice Karra ruled in his important and poignant dissenting opinion. However, the High Court justices at least ruled unequivocally that the law does not infringe on the right to equality of the Arab minority, nor on the status of the Arabic language and the possibility of strengthening the status of the Arabic language in the public sphere.

The Association for Civil Rights emphasizes that although the High Court essentially gleaned the law of its racist implications, it continues to call that the Knesset repeal the law immediately. "A discriminatory and harmful law, even stripped of it's practical meaning, has no place in Israeli law books, as its very existence perpetuates the institutional and ongoing discrimination against the Arab society in Israel."

More information on the Nation-State Law can be found here.


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