Time to take action against Israel's apartheid 'nation state' law

26 July 2018

Time to take action against Israel's apartheid 'nation state' law

What was in reality already the case has now been formally incorporated into Israeli law. In the country once counted a democratic good example in an authoritarian region, apartheid has now been confirmed as a legal principle. The law from now on will state that only Jewish inhabitants of Israel have the right of self-determination. The 1.8 million Arabs who live there are now also officially second class citizens, their language no longer recognised as one of the official languages and their fate made dependent on the wishes of the Jewish population.

Fortunately, not everyone in Israel approves the apartheid policy of prime minister Netanyahu and his ultra-right government. There remain many brave people – including many Jews - who want Israel to be a civilised country in which every citizen has the same rights, unrelated to origin or religion. These people deserve international solidarity in their struggle against Israeli apartheid.

As president of the United European Left group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), I will be putting the issue on the body's agenda. The Council of Europe is the continent's oldest and biggest treaty-based organisation and one of its principal concerns is the defence of human rights. Israel enjoys a special guest status in PACE and is represented in the Assembly by a delegation of members of its parliament, the Knesset. This status also carries obligations regarding respect for human rights, however.

I was pleased to see that the European Union has protested against the new law. Now let's see if the EU's words are backed up by deeds. There remains in place an EU-Israel Association Agreement, which includes a provision making its continuation dependent on respect for human rights. These rights are now being trodden underfoot. Enough is enough: it's time to take action against Israel's apartheid 'nation state' law.

Tiny Kox is member of the Dutch senate for the Socialist Party


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