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Israel tightens restrictions on freedom of Arab citizens

Image of Israeli Cultural Minister Miri Regev [file photo]
Israeli Cultural Minister Miri Regev [file photo]

An Arab member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, revealed on Monday that the Israeli authorities have decided to impose fines on institutions which rent space for events organized by non-Jewish citizens which the state regards as illegal, Quds Press has reported.

“The Israeli measure is against the simplest basics of democracy and free speech,” explained Jamal Zahalkeh MK. “It is racist because it targets Arab citizens and their institutions.”

On Sunday, the Israeli Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit met and agreed on how to implement the so-called “Nakba Law” which was enacted in 2011. This stipulates that any institution in receipt of government funds will be fined up to three times of the said funds if it rejects Israel as a “Jewish and democratic” state; incites racism, violence or terrorism; supports armed resistance or terrorist acts against Israel; or commemorates Israel’s “independence day” as Palestinian Nakba Day.

Read: The Nakba Explained

Israel Hayom said that Regev asked for the meeting after reports about an event hosted by a Jaffa theatre in honour of former Joint Arab List MK Basel Ghattas, who was indicted of smuggling telephones to Palestinian security prisoners.

Regev and Mendelblit, reported the newspaper, agreed that complaints about alleged violations of the Nakba Law by public institutions would be passed on to the finance ministry, which would have a week to respond on whether a given incident in fact violates the law.

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