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'Two-tiered' laws mean systematic discrimination for Palestinian citizens of Israel - report

A new report details the systematic discrimination faced by Palestinian citizens of Israel, after a summer of heightened tension and racist incitement against the state's non-Jewish population.

Discriminatory legislation is the focus of the new report by the Mossawa Centre, a Palestinian NGO based in Haifa, who say that the research "paints the picture of a worsening situation for the Arab community in Israel" (full report here).

According to Mossawa, Palestinians in Israel "are discriminated against in almost all aspects of life from education and employment to land allocation", with key factors being "the lack of a constitution as well as the paradoxical definition of Israel as both a Jewish and Democratic state".

The report claims that over 35 discriminatory bills have been proposed in the Knesset since the 2009 elections, but also describes how key components of Israel's legal discrimination are long-standing, and an outworking of "the way in which the Israeli government routinely privileges the Jewish over the democratic character of the state".

Despite claims made by current Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and government spokespersons about Israel's democratic credentials, Mossawa provides substantial evidence for how the state treats "Palestinian Arab citizens as unequal and second‐class citizens".

The bulk of the report is dedicated to ways in which Palestinian citizens suffer discrimination in a "two-tiered" system when it comes to "constitutional and citizenship law, land and planning regime, as well as the system of political and socio‐economic rights".

Examples include the law prohibiting "citizenship and residency to all Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, who are married or intend to marry Israeli citizens and residents", the land law created "to legalize the often violent confiscation and transfer of Palestinian‐owned land and property", and "a national land policy that privileges the interests of the Jewish community".

Mossawa contends that Israel's definition as "Jewish and democratic" is a "paradoxical contention".

The two‐tiered nature of Israel's legal system operates to privilege the interests of the Jewish community, while simultaneously disenfranchising its Palestinian Arab minority. This challenges Israel's perceived status as a democratic state within the international community.

The organisation concludes by reaffirming the necessity of exposing this "discriminatory legal regime" while "advocating for equality, minority status recognition and indigenous rights".

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