After seven years of delays, the Israeli governing parties have agreed the final terms of controversial new legislation that would define Israel exclusively as “the nation-state of the Jewish people”.
The bill is now expected to be fast-tracked through the Israeli parliament and on to the statute books in the coming weeks.
Approval by the parliament’s justice committee this week of the Basic Law, which carries much greater weight than normal legislation, marks a dangerous turning-point for Palestinians, according to analysts.
Amir Ohana, the committee’s chair, called it the “law of all laws”, while a government minister termed it “Zionism’s flagship bill”.
It effectively blocks any chance for Israel’s large Palestinian minority – one in five of the population – to reform Israel in the future into a normal, Western-style democracy.
In the words of one of the handful of Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament, Aida Touma-Suleiman, the bill “institutionalises an apartheid regime in the most blatant way”.
But equally significantly, and largely unnoticed, the Basic Law paves the way for Israel’s right-wing government to consolidate and expand the annexation of Palestinian lands under occupation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank – and stymie any legal moves intended to prevent such efforts.
The weight of expectations on the new bill is part of the reason it has undergone such a lengthy
process of redrafting since a…