Israel president rejects Netanyahu comments about Arab citizens


Israel’s president has hit back at Benjamin Netanyahu after the prime minister said in reference to the country’s Arab minority that Israel was “not a state for all its citizens”. Less than a month before the 9 April election in which the prime minister hopes to win with the support of far-right politicians and voters, Netanyahu wrote on Instagram that: “Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and only it.”

While not mentioning the prime minister – a long-time political foe – by name, Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, criticised what he said were recent “entirely unacceptable remarks about the Arab citizens of Israel”. “There are no first-class citizens, and there are no second-class voters. We are all equal in the voting booth. We are all represented at the Knesset [parliament],” said Rivlin, who holds a largely ceremonial role.

Netanyahu’s comments referenced a deeply contentious “nation state” law passed last year declaring that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country. Critics of the law have said it amounted to “apartheid” for the 1.8 million Arabs in Israel with citizenship, who make up about a fifth of the total population. They consist of Palestinians who remained on their land following wars surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948. Others either fled or were expelled from their homes.(theguardian)…[+]