Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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27 Teves 5760 - January 5, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Knesset Presidium Allows Law Declared Racist by its Own Attorney

by Eliezer Rauchberger

For the first time in the history of the Knesset, its presidium has decided to reject a legal opinion of its own legal advisory office. By a majority vote, it was decided to enable the representatives of the Arab party Chadash to table a proposal in the Knesset regarding the equality of the country's Arab sector. Those who opposed the proposed law say that it is racist, and that its purpose is to obliterate the Jewish character of the State of Israel.

The speaker of the Knesset, Avraham Burg, said that the decision whether or not to allow such a law to be proposed in the Knesset was a difficult one. On the one hand, he said, one's Jewish side opposes such a law. On the other hand, one's democratic side believes that it should be possible to propose such a law in the Knesset and to bring it to the plenum for a vote.

The sponsors of the law seek, in their proposal, to determine that Israel be defined in the Basic Laws as a democratic and multi-cultural state, instead of as a Jewish and democratic State as currently.

The official legal advisor of the Knesset maintained, in its opinion about the law, that it's purpose is to nullify the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish Nation. Therefore it should not be allowed as a proposal in the Knesset, using a clause in the law governing the Knesset which enables the speaker of the Knesset to refuse to approve laws that are of a racist nature.

Nonetheless, the presidium of the Knesset approved the proposal and the law will be brought for discussion and a vote in the Knesset, like every legitimate proposal.

Observers said that it was clear that the law stands no chance of passage at this time, but its consideration will set a precedent and it will presumably be proposed over and over again.

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