Palestinian citizens from 1948 areas (what is now the state of Israel) led a mass protest in central Tel Aviv on Saturday night against a contentious new law that critics say marginalizes the state’s non-Jewish citizens.
The rally marked further fallout from the explosive so-called Nation-State law and came a week after thousands of Druze, also members of the Palestinian minority, packed the same city square last week.
Critics of the apartheid bill say it undercuts Israel’s democratic values and sidelines the country’s non-Jewish population, namely Palestinians who make up 20 per cent of the country.
One clause downgrades the Arabic language from official to “special” standing. Israeli media reported tens of thousands of Jews and Palestinians attended the protest.
Some protesters waved Palestinian flags and others held signs reading “equality.” Some knelt and preformed prayers. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted footage on Twitter of protesters waving the Palestinian flags.
“No better testament to the necessity of the Nation State law,” he wrote.
Ayman Odeh, an Arab member of the Israeli parliament, told The Associated Press: “This is the first time that tens of thousands of Palestinians have come to Tel Aviv with Jewish democratic groups. They came to say this is not the end of the demonstrations, but the first serious demonstration against the Nation State law.” Many Jewish Israelis, including top retired security officials and politicians, have also harshly criticised the law. Omar Sultan, from the Arab city of Tira in central Israel, said he was protesting to send a message to Netanyahu.
“This law is against us, against the Arabic language, against peace, against our future in this land, we are the real people of this land, we can’t agree on this law,” he said. Israel’s Palestinians citizens face discrimination in some areas of society like jobs and housing.— AP