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‘Racist’ Bill Raises Storm in Israel’s Knesset

By Gideon Alon
From Haaretz
October 12, 2004

A furor erupted yesterday in the Knesset when the presidium agreed to allow a National Union MK to introduce a draft law perceived as being racist.

The bill, introduced by Zvi Hendel, would allow the establishment of a small community – up to 500 families – that wishes to maintain its special character, to be limited to members of one nation only. An earlier version of the bill, stating that “in a Jewish communal settlement, no Arabs will be allowed to live,” was not authorized by the Knesset’s legal bureau.

Hendel said that the purpose of the bill was to allow the building of Jewish communities without having to allow Arabs to live there.

MKs Moshe Kahlon and Yuli Edelstein (Likud), Chemi Doron (Shinui) and Nissim Dahan (Shas) voted in favor of allowing the draft law while Labor MK Eli Ben-Menahem and Hadash MK Mohammed Barakeh voted against. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin abstained.

“This is a racist law that has no place in the legal code,” said Barakeh. “It is legal pornography. This is a dereliction of the presidium’s duty and it is anti-democratic.”

Other MKs also expressed their fury. Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) said the law was anti-democratic and anti-constitutional and would not stand up in court. Labor faction chair Dalia Itzik said it was a disgrace that the Knesset was opening its new session with a racist proposal. Zehava Gal-On (Yahad) said the draft law was like something out of the Dark Ages.

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