CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 October 2018

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Patriarchate decries Israel’s new nation-state law

JERUSALEM (CNS): “It is beyond conception that a law with constitutional effect ignores an entire segment of the population, as if its members never existed,” said a July 30 statement from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem which strongly criticised Israel’s recently adopted Nation State Law.
 
The law, which defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, was passed by the 120-seat Knesset (parliament) early on July 19, receiving 62 votes.
 
The statement from the patriarchate called it “cause of great concern” because the rights of Palestinian citizens, who make up 20 per cent of Israel’s population, are not protected.
 
It added that, “The law might not have practical effects, yet it sends an unequivocal signal to the Palestinian citizens of Israel to the effect that in this country they are not at home.”
 
The country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said, “With this law we determined the founding principle of our existence. Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, and respects the rights of all of its citizens.” 
 
Among other things however, the law granted advantageous status to Jewish-only communities and downgraded Arabic from an official language to one with a “special status.”
 
The patriarchate said that while the law commits to work on the development of Jewish settlements, it contained no mention of the development of the country for other residents.
 
The law “is exclusive rather than inclusive, disputed rather than consensual, politicised rather than being rooted in the basic norms that are common and acceptable to all fractions of the population,” the patriarchate pointed out.
 
Citing United Nations Resolution 181 adopted in 1947, which partitioned what was then Palestine into Arab and Jewish regions and established the state of Israel, the patriarchate called the law discriminatory because it fails to protect the rights of non-Jewish residents.
 
The new law, the patriarchate said, also contradicted a 1995 law that guarantees the respect of the dignity of every person. “Where there is discrimination, there is no dignity,” the statement said.
 
“In other words, the law says there are not equal rights between Jews and Arabs and refuses to acknowledge their existence,” it said.
 
The patriarchate called on Israeli citizens “who still believe in the basic concept of equality among citizens of the same nation” to object to the law “and the dangers emanating thereof to the future of this country.”

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