Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, has released a new report (PDF) on discriminatory and anti-democratic legislation being considered by the Israeli Knesset. “We are being introduced to new laws and bills that in some way are narrowing the meaning of democracy here,” Adalah legal advocate Nadeem Shehadeh said in a telephone interview.
Categorized into two sections, the report lists five bills and five laws which further erode the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel and residents of the occupied Palestinian territory, and would impact everyone from Palestinian children to members of Knesset. The first section relates to the escalation in violence since September 2015, and the second targets human rights non-governmental organizations and advocates of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
This batch of legislation being pushed under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration, the most right-wing in Israeli history, would continue to shed Israel’s remaining facades of democracy.
Of particular note is the “Anti-boycott bill,” which allows the government to ban foreigners who advocate boycott from entering Israeli-controlled borders. This would include foreigners with Jewish ancestry, who would otherwise be eligible for Israel’s 1950 Law of Return. This would only continue to alienate young Jews from the US, most of whom do not think Israel is a democracy.
Relying on intentionally vague definitions, the list of legislation expands the state’s ability to collectively punish and marginalize Palestinians citizens of Israel and residents of the occupied Palestinian territory. For example, a bill aimed at criminalizing stone throwing now says that throwing stones without intent to cause harm is punishable, which “broadens the definition of stone-throwing,” Shehadeh said.
The bills employ vague definitions of terrorism, which Shehadeh sees as intentional, in part to prevent a contradiction with another bill currently being discussed in the Knesset that would define terrorism. “If you look at the bill, there’s a very broad definition of what a terrorist act is, and what constitutes a terrorist organization,” he said. “I’m familiar with the bill so I can tell you it’s very broad and dangerous.” The definitions are intentionally vague in order to prevent current laws from contradicting the upcoming anti-terrorism bill, according to Shehadeh.
Overall, Shehadeh identifies a tendency to subvert democratic expression. “[The Israeli government] is unable to tolerate any different opinions of this reality. I think it is what’s most dangerous.”
You can read the whole Adalah report here.