The Israeli government is currently gripped by a controversy over new laws – branded racist by its opponents – that would identify Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
But in the eyes of the law, Palestinians in the West Bank have been treated as second-class citizens for “decades”, according to a new report from a rights group.
The bill under contention would de-list Arabic as an official language and has been criticised for offered reserved “national rights” for Jews only and not the Muslims and Christians who make up 20 per cent of the population.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the proposed law is needed because of the refusal of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, insisting it will not undermine the country’s democratic character.
Yet the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) says the legal regime currently operating in the West Bank already involves the application of two systems of law in a single territory.
The One Rule, Two Legal Systems report said that while a civilian legal system exists in the West Bank for Israeli citizens, a second, military court system is used for crimes involving Palestinian residents.
Unrest in Jerusalem
Unrest in Jerusalem
A masked Palestinian celebrates the attack on the Jerusalem synagogue holding a poster of the attackers,Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal, during a rally in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
A masked Palestinian youth wearing a Hamas headband uses a sling-shot to throw back a tear gas canister towards Israeli forces during clashes outside the Israeli-run Ofer military prison following the deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue
Masked Palestinians hold axes and a gun as they celebrate with others an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
Israeli Zaka emergency services volunteers carry the body of one of the two Palestinian assailants who were shot dead while attacking worshippers at a synagogue to an ambulance in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem
An Ultra-orthodox jewish man prays at the scene of an attack, by two Palestinians, on a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem
An Israeli woman cries on a veranda next to a synagogue where a suspected Palestinian attack took place in Jerusalem
An Israeli police officer gestures as he holds a weapon near the scene of an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue
Israeli Zaka emergency services volunteers carry the body of an assailant who was shot dead while attacking a synagogue
Israeli emergency services personnel clean the sidewalk at the scene of an attack, by two Palestinians, on Israeli worshippers at a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem
Israeli security personnel run next to the synagogue in Har Nof, where a suspected Palestinian attack took place
A Palestinian activist knocks a hole through the wall near East Jerusalem
A masked Palestinian youth burns a tire near Israel's controversial barrier that separates the West Bank town of Abu Dis from Jerusalem
A Palestinian protester throws a stone at Israeli troops during clashes in the West Bank town of Abu Dis near Jerusalem
Palestinian mourners attend the funeral of bus driver Yusuf Hasan al-Ramuni in the West Bank town of Abu Dis from Jerusalem . A Palestinian bus driver was found hanged in his vehicle in Jerusalem, sparking clashes, after what Israel said was an apparent suicide but a colleague said looked like murder
A Palestinian protester tries to hammer a hole through Israel's controversial barrier that separates the West Bank town of Abu Dis from Jerusalem
Palestinian protesters climb a ladder at Israel's controversial barrier that separates the West Bank town of Abu Dis from Jerusalem
Israeli border policeman arrested over shooting of Palestinian boy during West Bank protests
Masked Palestinian youths clash with Israeli security forces in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Abu Tor
Israeli fire fighters inspect the scene of an attack in Jerusalem. A Palestinian man rammed his car into a crowded train platform in east Jerusalem and then attacked people with an iron bar, killing one person and injuring 13 in what authorities called a terror attack before he was shot dead by the police. The militant Islamic group Hamas took responsibility for the attack
Israeli police officers walk at the scene of an attack in Jerusalem
Israeli rescue workers and paramedics carry an injured man to an ambulance after a Palestinian man, Ibrahim al-Akri, was shot by Israeli police officers after he drove into a crowd of people
Ultra-Orthodox Jews look on from behind a police line at the scene of a killing when a Palestinian man drove a van into a crowd of police and civilians along the tracks of the Light Rail trolley system in East Jerusalem
“Unlike Israeli citizens, Palestinians are tried in military tribunals for every crime from traffic violations to the theft of a carton of milk from the grocery store,” the report said, in a practice that had been going on “since 1967”.
ACRI’s human rights director Tamar Feldman said: “This report demonstrates that discrimination between Israelis and Palestinians, living under one rule and in the same territory, is not a localised phenomenon, but an issue of institutional discrimination, as it applied to areas entirely unrelated to security matters. It falls to Israeli society to recognise this reality.”
Meanwhile, the Israeli NGO B’Tselem has launched what it claims is a “virtual tour” showing how national parks established in East Jerusalem have “restricted construction and development of Palestinian neighbourhoods”.
The rights group said five parks had been designated which “border populated Palestinian neighbourhoods” and on which no construction is allowed.
You can take the virtual tour online here.Reuse content