Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked yesterday warned the Israeli High Court of Justice of accepting any of eight petitions filed against the controversial Jewish nation-state law, Israel’s Ynet News reported.
Shaked warned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) of interfering in the Basic Law, calling such action “foolish behaviour”.
Interference by the HCJ, Shaked said, “is dangerous”, adding: “In a democracy, the court is not part of [the process of writing] the constitution.”
She charged that if the HCJ looked into the nation-state law, this would undermine the state’s democratic foundations and the principle of the separation of powers.
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who is a former justice minister, slammed Shaked and accused her of trying to undermine the Declaration of Independence, Ynet News reported.
“What was good then [when the declaration was signed], should be good for the Israeli government today as well. And if the government is incapable of voting in favour of that, then we truly did lose Zionism,” Livni said.
She exclaimed: “When the justice minister claims democracy is the majority rule and that’s it, then we have a fundamental problem in the perception of democracy.”
About this issue, the Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin called on the HJC to reject all petitions against the law.
“We are witnessing a new era where a minority is trying to forcefully repeal the law despite the needs of the majority of the population and despite the mechanisms of the democratic regime,” he said.
“I am calling on the HCJ judges to reject all petitions against the nation-state law,” he said, according to Ynet News.
The nation-state law was passed in July and declared that: “Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it.” The law also demoted the status of Arabic from an official language of the State of Israel to one with “special status”.
The law was lambasted by many inside Israel, with Israel’s minority Druze community calling the law a “betrayal” and several Palestinian MKs resigning. Prominent Israeli figures also condemned the law, with best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari refusing an honour by the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles in protest. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin was also critical of the law, allegedly saying he would sign the document in Arabic.
Of Israel’s 8.9 million population, 1.8 million (20.9 per cent) are Palestinian Arabs. A further half million (4.7 per cent) belong to other minority communities, all of whom are affected by the bill.