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Israel: High Court is not expected to strike down Jewish Nation-State Law

Thousands of demonstrators from the Druze community stage a protest against the “Jewish Nation-State” law that was approved last month by the Israel’s parliament, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel on August 04, 2018 [Daniel Bar On / Anadolu Agency]
Thousands of demonstrators from the Druze community stage a protest against the “Jewish Nation-State” law that was approved last month by the Israel’s parliament, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel on August 04, 2018 [Daniel Bar On / Anadolu Agency]

After hearing a series of fifteen petitions on Tuesday against Israel's Jewish Nation-State Law, the High Court of Justice is not expected to strike down the "racist" legislation, Dr Hassan Jabareen, the founder and executive director of Adalah rights group, has said.

Eleven Supreme Court justices sat on the panel sitting as the High Court of Justice. The latter generally hears petitions and provides judicial review over the branches of the Israeli government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the hearing on his Facebook page: "The court receives its power to rule by virtue of a basic law, and therefore cannot judge the source of its own power. This hearing illustrates the need for a series of judicial reforms."

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin MK, from the Likud, warned the High Court that if the justices do strike down the law, he would consider the decision to be illegitimate, the Times of Israel reported. "Any decision that would violate the Basic Laws that were passed in the Knesset is a decision made without authority, and is thus invalid," Levin said in his letter sent to Chief Justice Esther Hayut.

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According to Jabareen, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of the judges are supporting the law so that they will vote for it. "They will give explanations for the controversial articles in a way that keeps up with previous rulings. It seems that the court does not have political, legal or constitutional understanding for the racist dangers of this law. The court does not have an idea about the comparative law, nor does it understand that no country could accept such a law, which says that the state is only for Jews and not for its non-Jewish citizens."

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said that the High Court of Justice should not even have heard the case. As far as Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz is concerned, "The threats of Yariv Lavin and Netanyahu against the courts are threats to democracy and seek to dismantle the separation of powers."

Israeli law Professor Aeyal Gross expects the judges to defer giving an opinion on the law. A decision could take several weeks.

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