Home  Principles & Statements  Positions of the ACJ  Articles  DonationsAbout Us  Contact Us  Links                                         

Israeli Knesset Kills a Bill Callingfor “Equality for All Citizens”

Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
August 2018

In June, Israel’s lawmakers killed a bill calling for “equality for all citizens” even before it was introduced in the Knesset.  
On June 5, the Knesset issued a press release stating that its presidium group, consisting of the Speaker and Deputy Speakers, voted to disqualify a proposed bill that called for Israel to be defined as “a state of all its citizens.” By refusing to place this bill on the Knesset agenda, even the Knesset admitted that this was an “unusual” move since it is “the first time proposed legislation has been disqualified before being discussed in the plenum (the entire assembly of Knesset members) during the past two Knesset terms.”  
Mondoweiss (June 6, 2018) provided this assessment: “… What content in this bill was so shockingly offensive that Israeli lawmakers could not even allow it to be discussed …? The bill’s major offense lies within its simple objective, which is ‘to anchor in constitutional law the principle of equal citizenship while recognizing the existence and rights of the two Jewish and Arab national groups living within the country.’ The proposed bill also called for ‘separation of religion and state, while guaranteeing the freedom of worship for all.’ Since Israel defines itself as a democratic state, it should therefore be a state providing equality for both Jewish and Arab citizens.”  
At the present time, 4.5 million Palestinians, in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza are effectively under Israeli control, but are stateless people. They are neither citizens of Israel or any other country. They are not entitled to many of the same fundamental rights that Israel claims to respect. The roughly 1.7 million Palestinians who do hold Israeli citizenship face “institutional, legal and societal discrimination,” according to a U.S. State Department report on human rights.  
Mohamed Mohamed, executive director of the Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development, asks, “In the 21st century, where else can one find segregated roads like the ones that exist in the West Bank? Where else can one find a state that allows its towns to pick and choose which ethnic and religious groups can live in their communities? … Unless Israel changes its prejudiced and bigoted system, it will never escape the label of an apartheid state.” •

< return to article list
© 2010 The American Council For Judaism.