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Knesset member decries controversial Nation State bill

By Saeb Rawashdeh - Jan 23,2019 - Last updated at Jan 27,2019

Aida Touman-Sliman

AMMAN — The Nation State bill was one of many measures that the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applied, to further hinder the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The controversial bill and other discriminatory practices towards Arabs were the subject of a talk by Aida Touman-Sliman, an Arab member of the Knesset, at the Columbia Global Centres on Sunday.

The bill, passed in July of last year, created a second-class citizenship for non-Jewish people living in Israel, and disregards the rights of its Palestinian citizens, according to Touman-Sliman.

‘‘This is the first time that we are able to make it clearer to the world how dangerous this law is, and other laws that were passed in the last term of the Knesset,’’ Touman-Sliman said, adding that the bill had bounced around the Knesset for the last eight years, and was initiated by different parts of the parliament, including members who recently voted against it.

People from the so-called Zionist camp were among those who had initiated different versions of the law, but eventually voted against it, she explained, during the talk titled, ‘‘The Nation State Law: Implications for the Right of Non-Jewish Minorities’’.

According to Touman-Sliman, who represents Hadash (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality), 55 members of the Knesset voted against that law, but it ‘‘doesn’t mean that they are fully supporting our demand to abolish the law’’. 

‘‘Some of them would be satisfied if only two words were added to this law — one being equality and the second democracy. Israel also doesn’t want to define its borders as they want to keep this question open,’’ she explained.

The new legislation would create two classes of citizens that would live segregated, which is pure apartheid, she said, adding that it targets the right to self-determination, and not only of a Palestinian population within Israel. 

‘‘Netanyahu knows exactly what he leads, and he understands that there is a historical and political opportunity from his side to implement his plan, which is preventing the creation of the Palestinian state. With the help of Trump and the US administration he is applying ‘The Deal of The Century’,’’ Touman-Sliman added.

The coalition Touman-Sliman belongs to plans to appeal, to the Israeli supreme court, the decision, and is aware of all of the challenges ahead of them: ‘‘The right-wing Israeli government has changed nine out of its 12 judges in last four years. Four of the new judges are settlers living in the West Bank. If we submit the appeal and they reject it, we should have an alternative,’’ she noted.

However, she said that many American Jews see the repercussions of Trump’s presidency on US society and oppose the new Nation State Law in Israel, she highlighted

Regarding the future, she said that if someone asked people in South Africa a month before the collapse of the apartheid system whether it would be possible or not to demolish a political system, most would answer, ‘‘no way’’. Because of that, Palestinian political representatives should continue their struggle with all available means as, ‘‘the injustice can't continue forever‘‘, Touman-Sliman concluded.

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