Brussels, September 4th, 2018 – The controversial Jewish Nation State Law, which was passed by the Israeli Knesset in the month of June and which has been highly criticised by the European Union, may not have been introduced at the most ideal time given all the other pressing issues in the region, but it is nevertheless fully compatible with international law, ECI Legal Counsel Andrew Tucker pointed out when he took part in the televised European Report talk show from the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday of last week.
“There is nothing legally controversial in the bill; it simply incorporates existing practice and understandings, accepted under international law, into Israeli domestic law”, Tucker said. “The new law does not introduce anything that was not already included or referred to in the Israeli Declaration of Independence (1948) and in existing Israeli laws”, he added. The Jewish Nation State Law simply reflects the fact that the State of Israel is the realisation of the expressed right of the Jewish people to self-determination. In a way, the new law simply repeats the basic principles that were adopted and accepted by the international community in the Mandate for Palestine in 1922 and the UN Partition Plan of 1947.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini has criticised the bill for “complicating the peace process” and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey has gone so far as accusing the Israeli government of turning the State of Israel into an apartheid state and the most fascist and racist country in the world.
But ECI Brussels Representative Ruth Isaac, who also appeared in the programme, did not accept these accusations. She believes the harsh criticism of the Jewish Nation State Law simply reflects the tactics and strategy of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement which is trying to discredit the Jewish state at any cost. “But these accusations are clearly misguided”, she said.
Tucker said that “the rights of minorities are not explicitly mentioned in the new Jewish Nation State Law” and he thought that it would have been politically more astute to have at least mentioned them in the law, given the sensitivity of the issue. But he pointed out that the new law in no way limits or affects the rights of minority groups in Israel including Arabs, Muslims, Druze and Christians.
“Those who are truly concerned with minority rights should look elsewhere in the region”, commented ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell, reminding the audience of the ethnic cleansing of Christian and other religious minorities in the Middle East over the last few years. “Only in one country in the region has the Christian minority actually grown – in the State of Israel,” he said.
Sandell added that it was regrettable that we still have to discuss the Jewish nature of the modern State of Israel, only one generation after the Nazis tried to put an end to all Jewish life in Europe.
“Six million Jews died in Europe during the Holocaust as there was no place anywhere in the world to which they could flee. There was no Jewish state to provide a safe place for them. If there is one people group that is entitled to a national home, it is the Jewish people. And if there is one parliamentary assembly in the world that should understand this basic fact of history, it is the European Parliament”, he concluded.
ECI Legal Counsel Andrew Tucker leads The Hague Initiative for International Cooperation (thinc.) which is a partner organisation of ECI and which will shortly be publishing a more detailed report on the Jewish Nation State Law.