Live Updates: Key Coalition Partner Says It Agreed With Netanyahu That Overhaul Can Be Delayed
As political protests over efforts by the far-right coalition to assert greater control over the Supreme Court have roiled Israel for months, bringing hundreds of thousands into the streets, the country’s Palestinian citizens have largely stayed on the sidelines.
That appears to be largely because of a widespread feeling among Palestinians that demonstrations have ignored issues important to them and feel that the Supreme Court has a history of deciding against their interests.
“For us, the legal war has already been decided with the nation state law,” said Sawsan Zaher, a lawyer who defends Palestinian rights in Israeli courts, referring to the 2018 law that recognized the right of national self-determination in Israel as “unique to the Jewish people.”
In 2021, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law, which rights groups said enshrined Jewish supremacy as a foundational principle of the Israeli state.
“These protests are Israeli Jewish protests for their own image as a democratic state,” Ms. Zaher said. “For Palestinians, it never was a democracy because of the history of institutionalized racism.”
Palestinian media and leaders have focused on a surge in deadly military raids by Israeli forces into Palestinian towns and cities in response to attacks by Palestinians, and on rising settler violence in the occupied West Bank.
Sally Abed, who works for Standing Together, an Israeli organization that campaigns for equality for Palestinians and Jews, spoke at one of the first protests against Mr. Netanyahu’s government, in January. At the rally, there was talk of both the need to fight the judicial overhaul as well as ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
But she has stepped back from the demonstrations since then, feeling that issues of particular importance to Palestinian citizens of Israel, like herself, have been absent from the debate.
“What we’re seeing is that the slogans and chants being raised, and the political story they are telling at the demonstrations isn’t relevant to our people, unfortunately,” she said.
She said she felt that members of the Israeli left and centrists often viewed the participation of Palestinian Israelis as important to advancing their own agendas but then failed to support Palestinian demands — such as ending the occupation of the West Bank.
The Palestinian community in Israel “feels like this isn’t their battle,” she added.
While most Palestinians have stayed away from the protests, Ayman Odeh, a Palestinian member of the Parliament, said he thought it was important for them to attend.
He was at the early protest that Ms. Abed attended, and has attended others, including the continuing demonstration in Jerusalem outside Parliament that started on Sunday, and wants other Palestinians to take part.
“The solution is not to sit in our homes,” he said. “Political change doesn’t happen in comfortable places; you are fighting a war over your opinion.”
Hiba Yazbek contributed reporting.