Israel’s Foreign Ministry and delegation to the United Nations are attempting to stop a Palestinian action aimed at suspending or removing Israel from the UN due to its nationality law.
Palestinians argue Israel disregards Security Council resolutions, the Charter of the United Nations, and encourages apartheid through the leglislation.
But Israeli officials say Palestinians are taking similar steps to those taken against South Africa during the apartheid era.
South Africa was suspended and not a member for several years.
“This is a cynical attempt by the Palestinians to spread lies from the UN stage,” said Israel Ambassador Danny Danon, who is working with US Ambassador Nikki Haley to derail the Palestinian initiative.
To suspend or permanently remove Israel from the UN, Palestinians need the consent of two-thirds of the General Assembly.
But they also need an additional nine votes of UN Security Council members including its five permanent members – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France.
Though the Palestinian delegation can try to halt Israel’s right to vote in the assembly chances of obtaining consent from permanent members are slim as the US will veto the move.
But a resolution could pass in the assembly as there is a Muslim majority which would be a propaganda victory for the Palestinians.
Meantime, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused protesters who attended a mass rally in Tel Aviv at the weekend against the recently-passed statute of wanting to “turn Israel into an Israeli-Palestinian state.”
Tens of thousands of Arabs and Jews packed Rabin Square to demonstrate, with a large number of Palestinian flags on show in violation of a ban.
“We received cogent testimony of the opposition to the existence of the State of Israel and the urgency of the Nation-State Law,” Netanyahu said at a weekly Cabinet meeting.
The law has caused controversy since ratification last month.
A clause stating only Jews have a right of self-determination in the country has been the subject of criticism especially from the Druze minority, many who serve the IDF.
“Yesterday we saw PLO flags in the heart of Tel Aviv,” said Netanyahu.
“We heard the calls: ‘With blood and fire we will redeem Palestine.’
“Many of the demonstrators want to abrogate the Law of Return, cancel the national anthem, fold up our flag and cancel Israel as the national state of the Jewish people and turn it, as their spokespersons said, into an Israeli-Palestinian state, and others say ‘A state of all its citizens’.
“It is for precisely this that we passed the nationality law.”
He added, “We are proud of our state, our flag and our national anthem. Israel is a Jewish and democratic state.
“The individual rights of its citizens are anchored very well in the basic laws and other laws.
“Now it is clearer than ever that the nationality law is also necessary,” he said.
“It is necessary in order to ensure the future of the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people.
“We passed this law and we will uphold it.”
Prior to the meeting, top government officials declared support for the law.
“Rabin is rolling in his grave over the fact that the Left supported Arabs who waved PLO flags in Rabin Square, the spectacle was disgraceful in my opinion,” said Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, who will take the matter to the Attorney General.
“Palestinian flags cannot be allowed to be waved in the center of Tel Aviv.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked backed the government viewpoint.
“The nationality law is correct, and the Zionist Left should have supported it in the phrasing with which it was passed,” he noted.
“PLO flags in Rabin Square proves that this is not a matter of equal civil rights because they clearly exist. This is about equal nationality and that will never be.”
And Kulanu Minister Eli Cohen described the protest as a “fifth column in the State of Israel.”
The Zionist Union and Yesh Atid party said “soul searching” was required which was why they opposed the law and clause to which they objected.
And former MK and Chairman of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, Mohammad Barakeh, maintained protesters had a right to wave PLO flags as it was a symbol of the “oppressed” Palestinian people.
The anger of the Druze community is still high on Netanyahu’s agenda according to reports.
A specific committee, including Druze leaders, has met, and the Israeli leader has gone out of his way to note it does not demean the Druze community.
A second meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Druze and minority community members who serve in the IDF has now taken place where issues discussed included obstacles to housing and employment.
Away from the nationality bill, the weekly cabinet meeting saw Netanyahu warn that if no solution was found to the IDF Draft law a date would be set for elections within two weeks.
However, after pressure from Charedi parties in recent days, Netanyahu reassured Litzman the matter must be resolved in the ‘coming’ weeks.
His comments last Sunday came as ultra-orthodox factions in the government coalition refused to change positions on the issue and support the bill.
“The approval of an amended draft law is one of the central things that served as a base to the current coalition and government,” said Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who threatened to resign from the government should the law in its current version pass.
“We have no interest in elections, but we will not be able to compromise on the fundamental and essential thing of safeguarding the status of yeshiva students whose Torah is their work.”
He added: “The different proposals will be brought for discussion to the Council of Torah Sages, which will decide on the matter. We will do as they instruct us.”
The existing statute was due to expire next month after High Court Judges deemed it unconstitutional.
The Knesset was obliged to pass an alternative law before then.
But last week, the High Court gave the government four months until December 2 to pass a new draft law.
High Court judges canceled an amendment ratified by the Knesset two years prior to the Conscription Law lowering the annual quota on the number of Charedim required to draft into the IDF.
The crisis could trigger general elections early next year.
By Leah Waxler