On 8 February 2012, the Arab Association for Human Rights sent a letter to Ms. Sandra Dewaele, the Head of Political and Press Section of European Union Delegation to the State of Israel.
Following the civil society consultation meeting on 7 February 2012, where the EU delegation and various NGOs discussed the 2012 Progress Report on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in Israel in 2011, the HRA called upon the EU to take direct, affective actions to protect minority rights in Israel.
In the letter, the HRA emphasized that 2011 was a challenging and important year for the HRA and the Palestinian minority in Israel. The political environment in Israel continued to promote intolerance and discrimination at an accelerated rate, articulated by an alarming spate of legislation targeting the Palestinian minority on nearly every front of daily life.
The HRA called attention to the new discriminatory laws enacted in 2011. These laws include the Admissions Committee Law, Israeli Lands Law, NGO Foreign Government Funding Law, Budget Foundations Law (or “Nakba Law”), Prawer Plan, Bishara Law, and amendments to the Criminal Procedures Law.
These laws threaten to exclude and remove Arab citizens from their land; condition their fundamental right to citizenship; inhibit the political participation of Arab citizens through their elected representatives; impede the ability of these representatives to advocate for their constituents; criminalize political expression or acts that question the Jewish nature of the state; and prioritize Jewish citizens in the allocation of state resources. It is significant that some of this legislation appears to be specifically designed to dismiss, circumvent or overturn Supreme Court decisions that specifically defend these rights.
“As both the depth and scope of this legislation shows, the Palestinian minority in Israel faces a comprehensive, concerted campaign of discrimination.” Palestinians are targeted by these sweeping efforts for nothing more than their identity and the national, ethnic, religious, and cultural ties they share. Despite representing 20% of the Israeli public, they are not declared a national minority under the founding Basic Laws of Israel. This prioritization of the Jewish majority is reflected in Israeli public opinion; according to the Israeli Democracy Institute, in 2010, 53% of the Jewish public maintained that the state was entitled to encourage Arab citizens to emigrate from Israel!!!”
The HRA pointed out that, although the EU, in it’s statement following the Tenth Meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council (22 Feb. 2011), urged Israel “to increase efforts to address the economic and social situation of the Arab minority, to enhance their integration in Israeli society, and protect their rights”, the human rights situation of the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel continues its path of deterioration. “Human rights are not just words but a fundamental necessity that affects people’s everyday life.” Mohammad Zeidan concluded. “I believe the situation requires EU’s direct, affective actions, as repeated rhetoric seems to make no impact.”