Arab-Israeli lawmakers ask EU to work to overturn nation-state law


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The head of Israel’s Arab Joint List party met with the European Union’s foreign policy chief to urge the body to actively work to overturn the controversial nation-state law.

Ayman Odeh and several Arab-Israeli lawmakers traveled to Brussels to meet with EU officials.

“I highly value the E.U.’s support as we struggle to overturn the Nation-State Law, for it is not merely a domestic Israeli matter when the rights of a national minority are trampled upon in a democracy,” Odeh said in a statement following his meeting with Federica Mogherini.

“I was pleased to discover that Ms. Mogherini shares our concern that while the law harms Arab citizens first and foremost, it also harms democracy itself and the prospects for establishing a Palestinian state and bringing about a peace agreement.”

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Odeh also said that “our allies in the international community have an important contribution to make to the struggle against the Nation State law, a law that was enacted by an extreme right wing government, and one that harms all citizens by institutionalizing discrimination, segregation and racism.”

Odeh told Mogherini that the first phrase of the law, “the land of Israel,” does not just refer to Israel within the 1967 borders but also the West Bank, which he said was an attack against any attempt to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

According to the statement issued by Odeh, he and Mogherini also discussed the economic and social discrimination of Arab citizens of Israel, home demolitions in the Negev, and incitement of the prime minister and his Cabinet members against Arab citizens.

An EU spokesperson said in a statement that Odeh had requested the meeting with Mogherini several months ago and that she regularly meets officials and legislators from partner countries, both from the government and opposition.

The spokesperson said that Mogherini “took note of the views of Mr. Odeh on the matter. The Nation-State Law is first and foremost a matter of how Israel chooses to define itself, and we fully respect the internal Israeli debate on this.”

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