Jerusalem, Jul 31, 2018 / 16:06 pm
A recently-adopted Israeli law that strongly affirmed the country’s link with the Jewish people and avoided mention of non-Jews wrongly excluded the non-Jewish population, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has said.
“It is beyond conception that a law with constitutional effect ignores an entire segment of the population, as if its members never existed,” the Latin patriarchate said July 30. “The law might not have practical effects, yet it sends an unequivocal signal to the Palestinian citizens of Israel, to the effect that in this country they are not at home.”
“The Christian citizens of Israel have the same concerns as any other non-Jewish communities with respect to this law,” the patriarchate continued. “They call upon all citizens of the State of Israel who still believe in the basic concept of equality among citizens of the same nation, to voice their objection to this law and the dangers emanating thereof to the future of this Country.”
The Nation State Law’s provisions, which have the weight of a constitutional amendment, define Israel as the “historic homeland of the Jewish people” who have “a singular right to national self-determination within it.”
The passage of the law by a 62-55 vote July 19 with the support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition drew widespread international criticism, including from influential groups like the American Jewish Committee.
Among the concerns of the Latin patriarchate were the law’s downgrading of Arabic as an official language to a language with a “special status.” It also objected to the law’s “commitment to work on the development of Jewish settlement in the land, with no mention of the development of the country for the rest of its inhabitants.”
“Palestinian citizens of Israel, constituting 20 percent, are flagrantly excluded from the law,” the patriarchate objected, charging that the law “says that there are not equal rights between Jews and Arabs and refuses to acknowledge their existence.”
The Latin Patriarchate serves all 150,000 Roman Catholics across Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Cyprus. While Israel’s population is predominantly Jewish, about 20 percent of the country’s 8.5 million people are Arab. About two percent are Christian.