An Arab Israeli lawmaker from the Zionist Union faction announced on Saturday that he would be resigning from the Knesset to protest the recently passed nation-state bill, which he said officially discriminates against Israel’s Arab minority.
“When the Knesset recess is over my resignation will go into effect, I promise you I will not sit in this Knesset again,” Zouheir Bahloul told Hadashot news.
Asked if his resignation was not too drastic, Bahloul, a popular former sports commentator, said that “the drastic act was the legislation of thenation-state law that makes the Arab population officially, constitutionally outside the realms of equality in Israel.”
Bahloul said this Knesset had recently passed a raft of laws he called “racist and extreme.”
“I can’t sit on the fence, I will need to give an answer to my grandchildren who will ask me what I did and say, ‘I resigned because of this harsh law that should have brought all the Israelis out onto the barricades and we wonder why they have not.’”
Outgoing Zionist Union chief Isaac Herzog paid tribute to Bahloul, saying that “the voices of the minorities in Israel have to be heard.”
The nation-state bill — which for the first time, enshrines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” and says “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people” — has sparked widespread criticism from Israel’s minorities, the international community and Jewish groups abroad.
On Sunday, Israeli Druze leaders, including three Knesset members, petitioned the High Court of Justice against the Jewish nation-state legislation, saying it was an “extreme” act that discriminated against the country’s minorities.
Israeli ministers have moved to reassure the Druze community that they are valued in Israeli society and have proposed a raft of measures to placate them.