UN Body Urges Israel to Amend Jewish Nation-State Law

UN Body Urges Israel to Amend Jewish Nation-State Law

Protest moves held by Arab citizens of Israel over Nation-State Law

A United Nations body has – for the first time – called on Israel to amend or cancel its Jewish Nation-State Law in order to comply with an international human rights convention that it ratified in 1991, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – Adalah – has reported.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UN CESCR)'s Concluding observations on the fourth periodic report of Israel, released on 18 October 2019, comprises a list of concerns, recommendations, and actions that Israel must take in order to comply with its obligations under international law, said Adalah.

According to the human rights center, this is the first time that a UN monitoring committee determined that the Jewish Nation-State Law does not comply with a human rights treaty ratified by Israel – and calls on Israel to either amend or repeal the law.

In its 18 October 2019 document, UN CESCR raised deep concerns about the discriminatory effect of the law on Israel's non-Jewish population including their rights of self-determination, non-discrimination, and cultural rights.

UN CESCR also called on Israel to respond to its concerns regarding aggravation of already-existing ethnic segregation and from increasing budgetary discrimination in other concluding observations – particular the Bedouin population in the Naqab (Negev) region.

The Committee urged the State party to review the Basic Law with a view to bringing it in line with the Covenant or repealing it and to step up its efforts to eliminate discrimination faced by non-Jews in enjoying the Covenant rights, particularly rights of self-determination, non-discrimination and cultural rights.

The Committee raised concerns that Bedouin citizens in unrecognized villages are being "evicted from their homes and ancestral lands and forced to relocate" to recognized townships. It recommended that Israel immediately stop evictions and stop violating the community’s basic human rights.

The Committee also said it is particularly concerned about the downgrading of the status of the Arab language from an official language to a language with special status.

Israel’s Nation-State Law defines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people,” with Hebrew as its official language and Jerusalem as its capital.

The law states that “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people,” thereby denying to Palestinians any national rights or existence. Arabic is downgraded from an official language to one with “special status.”

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