World Bulletin/News Desk
A Palestinian rights lawyer specialized in Israeli law believes that a bill seeking to enshrine in law Israel's status as a Jewish state is nothing but a political message from the Israeli government to the Arab Israeli citizens that the latter are not equal to Jewish ones.
"Israel is already defined as a Jewish state both legally and constitutionally, as stipulated in an Israeli basic law that was passed in 1992 and in the Israeli declaration of independence," Hassan Jabareen, who heads the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, told Anadolu Agency.
"There is also the Law of Return, which stipulates that every Jew, regardless of where they are, and even if they have non-Jewish family members, can automatically obtain the Israeli citizenship if they immigrate to Israel," Jarabeen said.
"This is why the proposed bill offers nothing new, legally speaking," he argued.
But, according to Jarabeen, the bill has a political dimension as it constitutes another attempt to reaffirm that Palestinian citizens of Israel are of inferior citizenship status, and that the state belongs to the Jewish people.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting that his country " provides full equal rights, individual rights, to all its citizens, but it is the nation state of one people only – the Jewish people – and of no other people."
"And therefore, in order to bolster the status of the state of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, I intend to submit a basic law that will anchor this status," he added.
Over 1.6 million Arabs are currently residing in Israel, constituting over 20 percent of Israel's 8 million citizens, according to the Israel Statistical Association.
"For Arabs, this law would not change anything, but it would further reaffirm that they are not equal to Jews," Jarabeen said.
Jarabeen went on to say that the moves comes as part of a "racist campaign against the Arab citizens, which intensified in the past five years."
Israel's proclamation as a Jewish state has been a point of contention at the latest round of U.S.-mediated peace talks with the Palestinians.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly expressed his refusal to compromise the longstanding Palestinian stance against recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.
Palestinians fear that identifying Israel as such will cancel the right of return of Palestinian refugees or the right of compensation to those affected by the creation of Israel in 1948.
Earlier this year, Arab foreign ministers reiterated their refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, going on to blame Israel for undermining the peace process.
Peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators collapsed in April over Israel's refusal to release a fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners despite earlier pledges to do so.
The talks aims to find a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the roots of which date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-famous "Balfour Declaration," called for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."
Jewish immigration rose considerably under the British administration of Palestine, which was consolidated by a League of Nations "mandate" in 1922.
In 1948, with the end of the mandate, a new state – Israel – was declared inside historical Palestine.
As a result, some 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes, or were forcibly expelled, while hundreds of Palestinian villages and cities were razed to the ground by invading Jewish forces.
The Palestinian diaspora has since become one of the largest in the world. Palestinian refugees are currently spread across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and other countries, while many have settled in refugee camps in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israel went on to occupy East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
Palestinians want the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
For many Palestinians, the right to return to their homes in historical Palestine – as enshrined in UN General Assembly Resolution 194 – remains a key demand.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Kasım 2014, 14:37