Knesset

Israel’s New Bill “Portrays Institutional Racism as Entirely Normal”

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Among its provisions, the legislation revokes the status of Arabic as an official language, even though it is the mother tongue of one in five citizens (photo: Reuters)

Israel’s Knesset has passed its first vote on a new bill defining Israel as “a national home of the Jewish people.”

By Jonathan Cook / Al Jazeera
May 11, 2017


“The aim is to portray institutional racism in Israel as entirely normal, and make sure the apartheid reality here is irreversible. . . . It is part of the right’s magical thinking — they are in denial that there is an indigenous people here still living in their homeland. We are not about to disappear because of this law.”
— Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament


New legislation to cement the definition of Israel as a state belonging exclusively to Jews around the world is a “declaration of war” on Palestinian citizens of Israel, the minority’s leaders warned this week.

The bill, which defines Israel as the “national home of the Jewish people,” passed its first vote in the Israeli parliament on Wednesday, after it received unanimous backing from a government committee on Sunday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to get the measure on to the statute books within 60 days.

Among its provisions, the legislation — popularly known as the Jewish Nation-State Bill — revokes the status of Arabic as an official language, even though it is the mother tongue of one in five citizens.

Israel’s population includes a large minority of 1.7 million Palestinians.

The legislation affirms that world Jewry has a “unique” right to national self-determination in Israel, and calls for the government to further strengthen ties to Jewish communities outside Israel.

It also increases the powers of so-called “admissions committees” that block Palestinian citizens from living in hundreds of communities that control most of Israel’s land.

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Israel’s Far-Right Demagogue Bringing Fringe Beliefs to the Center

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Bezalel Smotrich wants the Israeli military to be allowed to kill children who throw stones. (photo: Youtube)

Bezalel Smotrich has transformed himself from radical activist into a mainstream politician with an extremist manifesto.

By Emma Graham-Harrison / The Guardian
March 11, 2017


“A healthy person — who loves those who love him and hates those who hate him — doesn’t turn the other cheek.”
— Bezalel Smotrich


Bezalel Smotrich has backed segregated maternity wards separating Jewish and Arab mothers, called for government reprisal attacks on Palestinians and once organized a homophobic “Beast Parade” protest against Gay Pride. He is also a member of Israel’s Knesset, a confident polemicist and increasingly prominent political figurehead for the country’s ascendant far-right.

Like the far-right European and American politicians who have upended the political order further west, his stock in trade is drawing fringe beliefs into the political mainstream, shifting the centre of debate.

A commitment to defending settlements on Palestinian land, deemed illegal under international law, runs through his personal and political life. He was born in one, lives in one now and, in one of his most recent forays into controversy, he likened the evacuation of Amona, an outpost deemed illegal by Israel’s own courts, to “a brutal rape.”

He wants the Israeli military to be able to shoot to kill when children throw stones, flatly rejects a two-state solution and believes Jews have a divine right to all land that made up biblical Israel, he told Haaretz newspaper in a recent interview. “Looking after my people means that the whole land of Israel is mine, religiously, historically and also in practical terms,” he said. “I abort their [Palestinian] hopes of establishing a state.”

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Israel Votes to Authorize Illegal Settler Homes in Palestine

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Israeli settlers at Amona, near Ramallah in the West Bank. [photo: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters]

Passage of bill to evacuate one settler site while retroactively recognizing others meets with condemnation from U.N. and U.S.

By Peter Beaumont / The Guardian
December 5, 2016


“Today, the Israeli Knesset shifted from a path to establish a Palestinian state to a path of extending sovereignty to Judea and Samaria [as Israel calls the occupied Palestinian territories]. Let there be no doubt: the regulation bill is what will spearhead the extension of [Israeli] sovereignty.”
— Naftali Bennett, Israeli Minister of Education and Minister of Diaspora Affairs
“[The legislation] has the objective of protecting illegal settlements built on private Palestinian property in the West Bank. It is a very worrying initiative. I encourage Israeli legislators to reconsider such a move, which would have far-reaching legal consequences across the occupied West Bank.”
— Nickolay Mladenov, U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process


Israel’s parliament has voted to retroactively legalize thousands of illegitimate settler homes in outposts built on private Palestinian land, in a highly controversial move described by critics as a “land grab.” The measure, which passed in a stormy Knesset session late on Monday, has been met with international condemnation, and has already strained relations within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing rightwing coalition.

It comes in sharp defiance of a call on Sunday by the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, who urged Israel again to rein in the construction of settlements on West Bank land.

Israeli critics and Palestinians have described the legislation as a land grab that would further distance prospects for a two-state solution to end the long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some high-profile political supporters, echoing that view, celebrated the vote by saying it opened the way to annexation of the West Bank and the end of any prospect of a Palestinian state.

According to estimates by opponents — including the prominent anti-occupation group Peace Now — the new law, if finally approved, would effectively annex 55 illegal outposts and approximately 4,000 housing units in settlements and illegal outposts.

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