PLO Executive Committee member, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, strongly condemned the passing of a new Israeli Knesset bill that was sponsored by MK Yariv Levin of the Likud Party and that explicitly distinguishes between Muslim and Christian Palestinian citizens of Israel. Furthermore, she denounced Knesset’s discussion of a proposal initiated by right-wing MK Moshe Feiglin regarding the extension of Israeli sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa Mosque:
“These moves demonstrate that Israel is transforming its military occupation into an outright religious confrontation and an ideological component of official policy as demonstrated in its insistence on the recognition of the ‘Jewishness of the state.’”
“Such developments, along with its systematic campaign to annex and distort the character and demography of Jerusalem, constitute institutionalized racism, which is illegal by all measures of international law and defies all the basic principles of democracy and human rights.”
“They are also fundamentally offensive to all other religions and constitute an extreme provocation to Muslims worldwide. Using religion as a pretext to impose sovereignty on historical places of worship threatens to plunge the entire region into great conflict and instability. It is reminiscent of the same regressive ideology that brought the Crusades to Palestine in the Middle Ages,” stressed Dr. Ashrawi.
She added, “History has revealed the dangers of extremism and religious bigotry being used to instigate and promote sectarianism and strife. This strategy is not only imposed on the Palestinians in Occupied Palestine, but it is also forced on Palestinian citizens of Israel (Christians, Muslims and Druze) who are subjected to an apartheid system of laws that neither respects nor implements human rights.”
“We call on all members of the international community to hold Israel accountable and to curb Israel’s legislated racial discrimination and deliberate aggression and assaults on Palestinian holy sites.”
“While Palestine is committed to the principles of tolerance, pluralism, diversity, and inclusiveness in a genuinely democratic system of governance consistent with the global values of the 21st century, Israel is adopting a policy of the classification of its citizens based on religion or ethnicity which is an obsolete and outdated practice,” concluded Dr. Ashrawi.