Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel is “not a country of all its citizens,” The Jerusalem Post reports.
What prompted the prime minister’s comments were social media posts made by famous Israeli actress and television host Rotem Sela. In an Instagram post, Sela pointed out that Israel treats Arabs like second class citizens.
“When will anyone in this government tell the public that this is a country of all its citizens, and all people are born equal?” the actress asked, adding that Arabs “are also human beings,” as are homosexuals, and “leftists.”
But according to Benjamin Netanyahu, Sela is wrong. The Israeli prime minister wrote in a Facebook post that Israel is indeed “not a country of all its citizens,” explaining that this is explicitly stated in the Nation-State Law that his government had passed.
“First of all, an important correction: Israel is not a country of all its citizens. According to the Nation-State Law that we passed, Israel is the the nation-state of the Jewish nation — and its alone.”
Earlier this year, as The Guardian reported, Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government passed the Nation-State Law by a 62-55 vote. The law explicitly states that “Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it.”
The law also downgraded the Arabic language from its designation of an official language alongside Hebrew to a “special status” language. The controversial legislation passed just hours before Netanyahu welcomed Hungary’s far-right leader Viktor Orbán, who has been accused of praising Nazi collaborators.
“This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said at the time.
The law was widely-criticized and condemned by the European Union, with some critics going as far as saying that it amounts to “apartheid.” The law was condemned by the Israel Democracy Institute as well, which described it as an “unnecessary embarrassment” to the country.
According to The Washington Post, a 2017 United Nations report officially described Israel as an apartheid state. According to the report, Israel is an apartheid state because one racial group systematically oppresses other racial groups within the country.
In 2019, as Reuters news agency reported, the United Nations said that Israel may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in wounding more than 6,000 Palestinian protesters and killing 189 in Gaza during 2018. The victims included journalist, children, and amputees.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected and slammed the report, accusing the UN of “obsessive hatred” for Israel.