Israel moves closer to banning mourning of its independence
Ministerial panel gives preliminary approval to bill which could forbid 'Nakba Day' events.
Public commemoration of Israel's independence as a day of mourning could become a crime subject to prison penalty, should a bill approved on Sunday by a ministerial panel be brought to the Knesset and cabinet for vote.
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday approved a preliminary proposal which would make it illegal to hold events or ceremonies marking Israel's Independence Day as a "nakba," or catastrophe.
Rather than holding barbecues and parades on Independence Day, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians usually take the day to commemorate the dispersal of Palestinians during the 1948 War of Independence.
Palestinian refugees around the world and Israel's Arab citizens mark the Nakba on May 15, the day after the British mandate over Palestine ended in 1948. Nakba Day is often observed by the Arab population in Israel with marches through destroyed villages.
According to the bill, those found in violation could face up to three years in prison.
The ministerial approval is only a preliminary step and has no legal bearing yet. Before the proposal could become a law, it must first undergo Knesset approval and cabinet consideration.
The proposal was brought forth by MK Alex Miller, of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party.
"This is the first measure geared at stopping the organized incitement spread by the Islamic Movement and the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee within Israel's Arab population," Miller said following the vote. "Every democratic country has the right to defend itself, and that's exactly what the Israeli government has chosen to do today."
The panel's approval caused an uproar among Arab parties and those factions geared toward Arab-Jewish cooperation.
"Government validation of one historically uneducated MK's delusions only goes to demonstrate the putrid sewers into which the governmental has, very expectedly, descended," said Hadash Chairman Mohammed Barakeh of Miller's proposal.
"Commemoration of the Nakba, which will continue regardless of this bill, does not represent a threat to Israel's existence. It is a way to mend past injuries inflicted upon the Palestinian people."
"It isn't Israel which faces an existential threat over commemoration of the Nakba. The Nakba is the ultimate threat of the Palestinian people," added Barakeh.
"This bill belongs, as do others, in the trash. Laws cannot rewrite a history in which crimes against peoples were committed, including the Palestinian Nakba," he said.