Imagen vía Anadolu Agency/Getty
A package of tough, far-reaching counter-terrorism laws tabled in Israel on Wednesday would make waving the Palestinian flag at demonstrations illegal and convictions for throwing firecrackers punishable by deportation to the Gaza Strip.In a move designed to halt the glorification of terrorism, the proposed law would also criminalize the printing of posters frequently distributed amongst the Palestinian community in the aftermath of attacks that celebrate the killers as "martyrs."
On Wednesday the eight-point plan was submitted to Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who ordered it in response to a recent spate of shooting, hit-and-run, and stabbing terror attacks centered on Jerusalem that have killed at least 11 Israelis.Clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces have become a frequent occurrence in the holy city following a summer of unrest, including a bloody 7-week war in Gaza that killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and 66 Israeli soldiers.Other proposals in the document would see a beefing up and legal affirmation of controversial measures already in tentative use, such as: the demolition of terror suspects' family homes; not returning the bodies of terror attackers to their families; and revoking the citizenship, or residency, of relatives that support their actions.'A Darkness in His Heart': Terror, Martyrs, Rubble and Repetition as Israel Resumes Home Demolitions. Read more hereThe proposed package of counter-terrorism laws, suggested as temporary measures to deal with the current crisis, will almost certainly further inflame tensions between Israelis and Palestinians — and also likely augment further bickering in Israel's internal politics.A so-called "Jewish State Bill," passed in its draft form by a 14 to 7 majority in the Israeli cabinet after loud slanging match between ministers on Sunday, has already provoked a damning critique from several senior political figures as fundamentally racist and undemocratic.
Backed and promoted by Netanyahu, the proposed law would see Arabic delisted as an official language and cites Jewish law as an inspiration for legislation.While much of the condemnation so far has come from Israel's beleaguered political left, the country's President Reuven Rivlin, a staunch right-wing politician and member of Netanyahu's Likud Party, has also now waged in on the furore.Speaking in the southern Israeli town of Eilat on Tuesday evening, Rivilin labeled the proposed law unnecessary and counter-productive. "What is the point of this bill? Does this proposal not in fact raise questions about the success of the Zionist enterprise? Does this bill not in fact play into the hands of those who seek to slander us?" he asked.Israel's right-wing former defense and foreign minister, Moshe Arens, has also slammed the bill in a comment piece for left-leaning Israeli media Haaretz. "Not only is the proposed law unnecessary, it is harmful" he wrote."A quarter of Israel's population is not Jewish, and probably the most important item on the nation's agenda should be their integration into the fabric of Israeli society and their participation in the Israeli economy. Giving them the feeling of being at home, of being equal citizens."The unexpected hostile reaction from conservative as well as liberal politicians may well throw a spanner in the works of Netanyahu's political plans as he attempts to bolster support for his continued leadership of a coalition government from Israel's powerful right ahead of a potential early election.
In a black humor response to the draft law, hundreds of Israeli Arabs have imposed a "second-class citizen" stamp over their Facebook profile photo.Sana Jamalia, the graphic design student who started the campaign, told Haaretz that the bill was "contemptuous" but also laughable since discrimination against Israeli Arabs and Palestinians is already so deep-rooted."What's new here? We were never first-class citizens. At least now [it has been] said it out loud. I prefer that they tell us directly and not pretend we live in a democratic country… [where] they are self righteous and say there are equal rights," she added.But in Jerusalem, Azzan Abu Saud, a Palestinian political commentator, presented a much darker view of the situation. "These measures will not stop what is happening, because these actions are a result of being fed-up with constant oppression," he told VICE News. "The only way for them [Israelis] is to kill every Palestinian. This is the beginning of the third intifada."Follow Harriet Salem on Twitter: @HarrietSalem