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Hearings in Knesset over Arab MP's

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Azmi Bishara makes a point

Hearings have begun in the Israeli Knesset to ban three Arab MPs and their parties from contesting next month's general elections because of their support for the Palestinian uprising.

Israeli Attorney General Elyakim Rubenstein told the Knesset on Sunday that leading Arab politician Azmi Bishara should be stopped from running because his support for ‘resistance' amounted to endorsement of suicide bombing and other violent attacks against Israel.

In this interview with Radio Netherland's Lovejit Dhaliwal, Mr Bishara rejects allegations of support for terrorism, and warns that if the ban goes ahead, Israel will have moved closer to being an apartheid state. - click to hear the interview 4´18

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"I think [the allegation] is totally false, and in my answer I disputed all these charges. Mr Rubenstein knows very well I wrote extensively and I spoke extensively against not only suicide bombs, but against targeting civilians and terrorism in general. I do stand for the right of people under occupation to resist occupation, because they don't have any other democratic tools. If they give them [the Palestinians] the right to vote, or annex them to Israel and give them the possibility to use parliamentary tools for example, I think they would use that. But people under occupation are granted the right of resisting occupation even under international conventions like the Geneva Convention. The solution is political, whether the Israelis withdraw from the Occupied Territories. I usually add to that, although it's not my right to give advice to people under occupation, it's my duty, my human and my civil duty to say that I'm against targeting civilians, I don't accept it morally, I don't accept it politically, I don't accept it ideologically. I think the charges of Mr Rubinstein are politically and ideologically motivated, and the fact that he needs to distort the reality and distort my position speaks for that."

RN: "You've also been accused, and charged under this new law introduced last May which says that the Knesset can disqualify any candidate or party for denying Israel's existence as a Jewish or democratic state or support for armed struggle."

"What made Mr Rubenstein speak like this is that he cannot live in peace with my demand . . . that Israel should be a state of the citizens. That separates religion from the state, which is actually a liberal democratic position, that a nationalist religious man like him cannot accept and cannot live with. Actually what we say is something that is understood in any democratic country in Europe, including the Netherlands: that the state should be the state of the citizens, not of a certain religion, or a certain ethnicity. He believes that this contradicts the Jewish character of the state. Now, we are not against the Jewish character of the state: it has a Jewish character because it has a Jewish majority, and we believe in the right of this Jewish majority for self-determination . . . but the state in its definition, and in its function should be the state of all its citizens, not the state of the Jews in the whole world, and without being the state of its citizens who are non-Jews. This is a liberal democratic position that he [Mr Rubenstein] cannot live with. I think if he has a problem, he has a problem with democracy . . . he is actually defending nationalism and chauvinism against democracy . . . he is attacking the democratic character of the state."

RN: "If your expulsions do go ahead, and that of your two Arab colleagues, what will this mean for Arab confidence in the democratic system of Israel?"

"They will be heading, slowly but surely, in the direction of an apartheid system. Anyway, there's a racial discrimination of Israel against Arabs. Anyway Arabs are treated as second or third class citizens, but now we are talking about political rights, which are the only things that remain here. Attacking the political rights of the Arabs means that citizenship will not be complete, it won't be real citizenship, which means that Israel will become an apartheid system . . . I think the implications will be very severe for the future . . . I do believe the Supreme Court of Israel will not let that happen."

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no, if you are not jewish you can still be a citizen, but you are a second-class citizen, ie. it's harder to get into university (that's why i moved to the US), job wise, mortgage, family, etc...

one thing that really pisses me off is that we have ID cards in israel (teudat zehut, they are called), and on them, there is a part that asks what nationality you are...so that it's pretty obvious you're jewish or non-jewish when you show it. i think that's wrong and clearly racist.

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