Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu confirmed last week that Israel—the state founded on Palestinian land—doesn’t belong to its Palestinian citizens.
Responding to criticism of the racist election campaign run by his Likud party, Netanyahu said that “Israel is not a state of all its citizens.”
“Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people—and only it,” he said.
He pointed to the Nation State Law—passed by his government last year—that said only Jewish people have the right to self-determination there.
Actor Rotem Sela criticised Likud’s election campaign, which has repeatedly derided its opponents by accusing them of seeking support from Arab parties.
“What’s the problem with the Arabs?” Sela asked. “God in heaven, there are also Arab citizens in this country. When the hell will somebody in the government let the Israeli public know that Israel is a state of all its citizens and that all people are born equal?”
But Netanyahu responded, “Israel is not the state of all its citizens. According to Basic Law that we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people—and its alone.”
The law—a “basic law” treated as part of Israel’s constitution—implicitly denies the same rights to Palestinians who have lived there since before Israel was founded in 1948.
Although it has been criticised in Israel, it reaffirms the racist nature of a state built on the expulsion and exclusion of Arabs.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled to ensure that Israel had a Jewish ethnic majority at its foundation in 1948. Racist laws, violence and discrimination ensure that Palestinians are kept marginalised as Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem deepens.
Netanyahu’s Likud party has thrived amid the racist atmosphere against Palestinians.
Netanyahu won Israel’s last elections in 2015, calling on his supporters to turn out and vote for Likud because “Arab voters are coming out in droves.”
As the row erupted, the Palestinian Authority (PA)—which governs limited areas of the West Bank—announced it was cutting the salaries of its employees.
The fifty percent pay cut was blamed on a decision by the Israeli government to withhold funding to the PA.
Last July the Israeli government voted to take £230 million a year from the PA’s budget.
Israel collects taxes on behalf of the PA as part of a supposed “peace deal” signed in 1993. It’s one example of how it has used the occupation to cement its control over Palestinian land.
The Labour Party faces an investigation into antisemitism by a government human rights group. The action was prompted by people who say it is antisemitic to call Israel a racist state.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) says it will contact the Labour Party over complaints of antisemitism.
The announcement was treated by some critics of Labour’s left wing leadership as proof that the party is antisemitic, although an investigation has not yet even begun.
The EHRC said it was preparing to examine Labour after the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) submitted a dossier of evidence to it.
On its website the CAA classes anti?Zionism—opposition to Israel’s founding ideology that justifies racism against Palestinians—as antisemitism.
And it has accused the Palestine Solidarity Campaign as being fuelled by antisemitism.
The CAA submitted its complaints to the EHRC in November last year—after Labour adopted a definition of antisemitism that rules outcalling Israel a racist state.