Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired back at the presence of Palestinian flags during a protest against the Nation-State Law in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, writing on Twitter "there is no greater testament to the necessity of this law."
"We will continue to wave the Israeli flag and sing Hatikvah with great pride," he wrote, posted alongside a video of protesters waving the Palestinian flag.
Saturday night's protest drew a crowd of more than 10,000 people, primarily Arab-Israelis, as they protested the recently-passed Nation State Law, the second-such protest in as many weeks after the Druze-led protest last weekend.
The Jewish Nation-State Law cements a right to self-determination in the State of Israel for the Jewish people, and addresses this in regards to language, flag, state symbols, holidays, and the status of the Jewish diaspora. Much of the criticism against it stems from the fact that it does not mention the value of equal individual rights for all citizens.
The protest was organized by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, a non-governmental umbrella organization that represents Israel’s Arab community in the political sphere. Earlier in the week, the committee submitted a formal petition to the High Court against the law on Tuesday before announcing Saturday's protest. The petition alleged the Nation-State Law discriminates against non-Jews, primarily Israel’s Arab minority, whose numbers make up around 20 percent of the state’s population.
Among the attendees and speakers were head of the Monitoring Committee Mohammed Barakeh, renowned sociologist and Eva Illouz Joint List MK Ayman Odeh, in addition to other Joint List MKs, including Ahmad Tibi and Yousef Jabareen.
Netanyahu has long been critical of protests against the Nation-State Law and members of Israel's Left
, calling their criticisms "absurd."
“There are suggestions that we should change the flag and the anthem in the name of ‘equality,’” Netanyahu said in late July, adding that there is opposition to the “nation-state” idea in many countries, “but first of all in the State of Israel – [it is] something that undermines the foundation of our existence. For this reason, the attacks from Leftist circles that define themselves as Zionists are absurd and reveal the depths to which the Left has fallen.”
Similarly, Sara Greenberg, an adviser to Netanyahu, wrote in an op-ed for The Jerusalem Post
, the Nation-State Law is not discriminatory, calling its critics "mistaken and misinformed."
"The new basic law does not, however, contradict or supersede the basic laws that protect and guarantee individual rights of all citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender," she wrote.Tamar Ben Ozer contributed to this report.
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