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Israel court deems 'racist' Nation-State Law constitutional

A woman shouts slogans as Arab Israelis and their supporters demonstrate during a rally to protest against the 'Jewish Nation-State Law' in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on August 11, 2018. [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images]
A woman shouts slogans as Arab Israelis and their supporters demonstrate during a rally to protest against the 'Jewish Nation-State Law' in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on August 11, 2018. [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images]

Israel's Supreme Court yesterday refused a host of petitions against the country's Nation-State Law, local media has reported.

Ten of the 11 judges favoured denying the petitions against the law, deeming it constitutional. Only the one Arab judge on the bench – Justice George Karra – objected. The Nation-State Law states that Israel does not belong to all its citizens, but is the "the Nation-State of the Jewish people".

The court was quoted in a statement as saying that the law provisions must be "interpreted in light of Israel's other basic law on human dignity and liberty and on freedom of occupation, which specifically address the dual character of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state."

The statement added that the Israeli basic laws, including the Nation-State Law, were designed "to consolidate Israel's Jewish character, and to not contravene the state's democratic character."

"This basic law is but one chapter in our constitution taking shape and it does not negate Israel's character as a democratic state," Esther Hayut, the court's president, wrote.However, Karra said sections of the law create "unconstitutional arrangements that negate the heart of the state's democratic identity and shake the very foundations of the constitutional structure."

Al Jazeera reported Adalah, a Palestinian rights group that tried to overturn the law, saying that the court upheld a law that "completely excludes those who do not belong to the majority group". It said it would "continue to work internationally to expose the discriminatory and racist nature of this law".

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