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The Abraham Fund, which is a grassroots organisation building stronger relationships between Israel’s Jews and Arabs, has issued caution to the potential impact of the proposed Jewish State Bill, for Israel’s Arab population. 

In a statement to the Jewish News, the fund outlined that “the government support for both versions of the “Nationality Law” causes further damage to the relations between the state and the Arab minority in an already-explosive situation.

This is true even if the government is unable to advance the law beyond the Preliminary Reading stage. Both proposed laws seek to grant seniority to Israel’s Jewish identity over its democratic character and to impose Jewish exclusivity in the public domain.

They imply the effective abandonment by the state of the vision of a Jewish and democratic state: a state that is the national home of the Jewish people and is also the full and complete home of its Arab citizens”. 

It further outlined that the “more extreme version of the law would eliminate the status of Arabic as an official language and impose an obligation on the state to develop Jewish-only settlements”.

Whereas, “the alternative version of the law ignores the existence of an Arab minority for whom Israel is also a homeland and imposes hierarchical relations between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens.”

They imply that Israel’s Government’s support for these proposed laws delivers a “negative message to Arab citizens in Israel”, which is particularly true since the “laws make no mention of the Arab minority’s right to equality or of the importance of its participation in public life in Israel.” 

Abraham Fund co-directors Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu and Dr. Thabet Abu Ras commented: “Changes in Israel’s character must be made on the basis of broad political consensus including all parts of Israeli society – the Arab minority included. Such changes cannot be based on a political will to exclude and marginalise minorities. The further advancement of this and similar legislative initiatives is liable to cause a profound rift between the state and the Arab minority. We fail to understand the need for this legislation, nor the added value the state will gain from its advancement in the current reality”.