Daily Israel Report

Soft ‘Nakba Law’ Approved; ‘Shalit Law’ Delayed Again

Gov't okays law that would prevent funding of bodies that mark ‘Nakba.’ No decision on ‘Shalit law’ preventing family visits to Hamas prisoners.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 7/19/2009, 6:55 PM

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a moderate version of the Nakba Law Sunday, putting it on the fast track for ratification in the Knesset. The law gives the Finance Minister the authority to withhold funding from bodies that mark Israel’s Independence Day as a day of mourning. It will make it possible for the government to cut off funding of Arab local authorities and other groups that mark the day as “Nakba Day” – or “Catastrophe Day.”

The idea of Nakba Day is to commemorate the disastrous results, for the Arabs, of Israel's War of Independence in 1948. That war began as a pan-Arab attempt to annihilate Israel and ended as a crushing defeat for the Arab side, with Israel enlarging its borders beyond what a United Nations partition plan had allocated it.

The original “Nakba Day” legislation, proposed by MK Alex Miller of Israel Our Home, would have made participation in Nakba Day events punishable by three years’ imprisonment. That idea was criticized by some as impinging on citizens’ freedom of speech, while others claimed it would be difficult to enforce and could have the opposite effect of that intended.

The modified law does not call for punishing participants in Nakba Day events, but would hurt organizers by going for their pockets.

The law says that “any body that is funded by the state, or a public institute that is supported by the state, will be barred from allocating money to activity that involves the negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people; the negation of the state’s democratic character; support for armed struggle, or terror acts by an enemy or a terror organization against the state of Israel; incitement to racism, violence and terror and dishonoring the national flag or the national symbol.”

MK Miller was pleased with the vote Sunday, and called it “a basic but courageous decision.”

Citizenship Law extended
The government also extended on Sunday, by one year, the force of the Law of Citizenship and Entry into Israel, which prevents people from enemy states from becoming Israeli citizens by marrying Israeli citizens.

However, a High Court decision on the legality of the law is pending, and could cause its negation.

Shalit Law postponed
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation also decided Sunday to postpone for a third time its discussion of the law known as the Shalit Law. The law, named after Sgt. Gilad Salit, who was abducted by Gaza terrorists three years ago, would have put an end to all non-essential visits and other privileges to Hamas terrorists held in Israeli jails, as long as Shalit is held captive.  

The law would still allow visits by lawyers and Red Cross representatives, although Shalit is denied those as well.

MK Danny Danon, the law’s sponsor, said that “the hesitation and lack of confidence on the Israeli side weaken our position vis-à-vis Hamas.” Danon said he intends to work to bring about the law’s passage.

The law faces opposition from prison officials, who have expressed concern that it could lead to riots in Israel's jails. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly asked Danon to reconsider the bill.