Arabs could become second-class citizens in Israel under new laws

Ben Lynfield
Monday 24 November 2014 10:00
A young girl holds a placard reading in Hebrew: 'I want peace'

The Israeli cabinet yesterday backed draft legislation aimed at strengthening the Jewish character of the Israeli state, a move liberals warn will undermine democracy and discriminate against Arab citizens.

Ministers voted 14 to six to send two versions of a bill defining Israel as “the nation state of the Jewish people” to parliament for a preliminary vote this week.

Under an elaborate deal engineered by the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, both versions are to be superseded after the vote by an ostensibly more moderate bill that the premier is currently finalising. He says his bill will place democratic and Jewish values on an equal footing.

Mr Netanyahu’s bill, as published in the media, does not even accord Israel’s Arab minority the “equality of social and political rights” found in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

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