Netanyahu to Arabic-language newspaper: Nationality Law isn't against Arabs

PM explains that the Nationality Law is not directed against Arabs but rather is meant to prevent illegal immigration.

Dalit Halevi ,

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu
Marc Israel Sellem/POOL

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is clarifying in a message to the Arab public in Israel that the Nationality Law is not directed against them but is meant to prevent illegal immigration.

In an interview with the Israeli Arab-language Kul al-Arab newspaper, Netanyahu said that "the Nationality Law was not enacted against the Arabs, but against the illegal entry of African refugees into Israel."

Netanyahu added that "the Nationality Law does not abolish the Arabic language, even though the Hebrew language is the official language in Israel, but not at the expense of the Arabic language."

"The law states that the State of Israel is the Jewish nation state, but there are many other laws that emphasize that all citizens of the state have equal rights," he explained.

Netanyahu stressed that a similar situation exists in many democracies, including European ones, and that the essence of the law has not been interpreted correctly. In this context, Netanyahu noted that the Israeli government has allocated a large budget for the development of society and Arab communities, and the allocation of 21 billion shekels for the promotion of education, infrastructure, transportation and more has been discussed.

"All this is not election propaganda that has begun now. I have been acting for some time, especially in the last 11 years, out of the believe that Arabs and Jews and all citizens of the country must live in equality, peace and brotherhood," Netanyahu said.

"The Nationality Law does not mean that Israel is a state for Jews only, rather it means that it is the nation state of the Jewish people, but it is a state of all its citizens, and gives them equal rights. The law is not against any citizen of the state."

The Nationality Law states that Israel is the Jewish people's nation state and establishes as law Israel's flag, symbols, the Hebrew language, and various other items mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.

The law does not affect the rights of minority citizens in Israel, but has been criticized by Arab countries, as well as by Israeli Arabs, who claim that it is discriminatory.

In 2018, a delegation of Arab MKs held a series of meetings at the United Nations Human Rights Council as part of their efforts against the national law. The delegation met with United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore, as well as with several other UN officials.