Palestinian lawmakers face discrimination in Israeli parliament: rights group

Palestinian lawmakers face discrimination in Israeli parliament: rights group
A new report by Amnesty International reveals the 'discriminatory attacks' faced by Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament.
2 min read
04 September, 2019
Israel's Arab parliamentary bloc and Knesset members hold signs in protest [AFP/Getty]
Palestinian lawmakers elected to Israels parliament, the Knesset, are the target of discriminatory measures, according to Amnesty International.

Amnesty International's findings show that the ability of Palestinian Knesset members, referred to in the report as MKs, to "represent and defend the rights of the Palestinian minority population in Israel" is being undermined

The report, entitled Elected but restricted: Shrinking space for Palestinian parliamentarians in Israel's Knesset, was published Wednesday, just a few weeks ahead of 17 September elections in Israel.

"Palestinian members of the Knesset in Israel are increasingly facing discriminatory attacks. Despite being democratically elected like their Jewish Israeli counterparts, Palestinian MKs are the target of deep-rooted discrimination and undue restrictions that hamstring their ability to speak out in defence of the rights of the Palestinian people," said Saleh Higazi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

"With Israel systematically committing human rights violations against Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, it is vital that Palestinian voices in parliament are heard, considered and respected."

The rights group identified legislative amendments, regulations and practices that allow for discrimination against Palestinian lawmakers.

Among them is a 2016 legislative amendment which allows members of the Israeli parliament to be expelled by a majority vote.

According to the report, this means "that MKs who express peaceful political views or opinions that are deemed unacceptable by a majority of MKs can face expulsion from parliament".

Amnesty International quoted one Palestinian lawmaker who described this amendment as a "sword dangled over our heads by members of the Knesset who oppose us politically".

The report further reveals that, since 2011, at least four bills related to the rights of Palestinians were disqualified before they were even discussed in the Knesset.

The report also highlights the discriminatory attitudes held by Israeli politicians towards Palestinian members.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in March that "Israel is not a state of all its citizens... it is the nation-state of the Jewish people only".

Netanyahu was accused of demonising Palestinians living in Israel, who make up about 17 percent of the population, in an attempt to boost right-wing turnout in the elections held in April.

Netanyahu and his right-wing and religious allies won the most seats in the April election but failed to forge a viable coalition. Elections were then called for September.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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