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Hassan Jabareen discusses how Israel's judicial crisis may affect Palestinians

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Opponents of Israel's government's plans to overhaul the country's judicial system are weighing their next moves after a defeat in the nation's parliament on Monday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition passed the first part of their program, stripping Israel's Supreme Court of its power to overturn certain government decisions and appointments. But where does the crisis leave Palestinians? To find out, we're joined by Hassan Jabareen. He's the director of Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. He joins us now from Haifa. Welcome to the program.

HASSAN JABAREEN: Hi, Leila.

FADEL: What was your reaction to Monday's vote in the Knesset and how it impacts the courts specifically for Palestinians, both citizens and Palestinians who live in occupied territories?

JABAREEN: This government is the most extremist, racist government in Israel history. This government main job description is to chase Palestinian rights in the West Bank, in Gaza, in Jerusalem, and Palestinian citizens of Israel. We are not surprised from these actions of this government. In the last 10 years, really, indeed, the Israeli Supreme Court dismissed many of the Palestinian cases. They support the expanding the settlements in West Bank. They support the continuation of the occupation, and they support limiting the rights of Palestinian citizens. So Palestinians, in fact, became the victim of the debate in the Israeli Jewish society regarding the status of the court. And they are the marginal group. They are not representative in decision-making levels. So of course, any limitation on the judicial review of the court will limit the rights of the Palestinians.

FADEL: When you say that this government is one of the most racist in Israel's history, if you could, describe specific policies that you believe show that.

JABAREEN: Because the coalition agreement of the three parties include many principles and items to limit the Palestinian rights. For example, yesterday passed a new law, and this law said every town that has 700 families inside Israel, this town will be allowed to decide who will live in this town and who won't live. So Israel is the only place in the world that Palestinian citizens, they are not allowed to buy and to purchase houses and to live in these towns.

FADEL: Now, one of the most far-right members of the government, national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said after Monday's vote that it was just the beginning. What do you think that means? When you hear it's just the beginning, what do you think is next?

JABAREEN: This minister, his agenda is clear, to limit the access of the citizens to the court. And the minister of police, who is responsible for the security of the Palestinian citizens in their villages, he himself is racist. He himself see the Palestinian citizen as enemy of the state.

FADEL: The protesters against the overhaul of the judiciary, the weakening of the judiciary in Israel say there's an existential threat to democracy in the country. How do you view the state of democracy in Israel right now?

JABAREEN: We don't see Israel as a democracy. In fact, many Israelis today, they don't see Israel as a democratic state. Even one of the major human rights Israeli organization is a report that Israel is apartheid state. The two camps that they are struggling now, the protesters and the camp of the government, we can see that the protesters are struggling for Israel to be Israeli Zionist state, and Israel government is for Israel to be Jewish religious settler state. So in this debate, there is no space for the Palestinian citizens because Palestinian citizens want a state for all of its citizens. They struggle for state without superiority of one ethnic group over the others.

FADEL: That's Hassan Jabareen, director of the Arab rights group Adalah. Thank you for your time.

JABAREEN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel
Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
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