Democratic Constitution of Adalah

The Democratic Constitution of Adallah is a proposal for a Constitution for the State of Israel aimed to advance the collective and individual rights of Israeli Arabs in the State of Israel

Definition

The term "Democratic Constitution of Adallah" (2/07) is a document composed by a non governmental Israeli organization called Adallah,1 and is intended as a proposal for a future constitution for the State of Israel.

Background

The Democratic Constitution of Adallah (hereafter "The Constitution") was intended to advance the collective and individual rights of Israeli Arabs in the State of Israel. At the foundation of the Constitution is the definition of the State of Israel as a democratic bi-lingual and multi-cultural State, in contrast to its current definition as a Jewish and democratic State.2

Concurrent with the preparation of the Constitution are three additional documents prepared by Israeli Arab organizations demanding a change in the character of the State of Israel. "The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel" adopted by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee and the Committee of Arab Local Council Heads (12/06), the soon to be published "Haifa Agreement" of Mada Al-Carmel, the Arab Center for Applied Social Research, and "An Equal Constitution for All?" by Dr Yousef Jabarin of the Mossawa Center (11/06).

Main Demands

The Constitution is comprised of four chapters:

  1. Introduction - The introduction presents the main premises of the Constitution3 and its legal point of departure that Arab citizens in the State of Israel are a 'homeland minority'.4

  2. The Foundations of the Regime - The Government will be divided between the executive, legislative and judicial branches; the State's character will be bi-lingual, multi-cultural and will be realized by cooperation in decision making in the Knesset between the Arab minority and the rest of Israel's citizens.

  3. Basic Rights and Freedoms - Basic freedoms and rights are given to all the State's citizens and special rights to the Arab minority, based on the values of Distributive and Restorative justice.5

  4. Miscellaneous - This chapter puts in place mechanisms for amending the constitution, a time period for implementing the Constitution and restrictions for interpreting its contents.

The Reut Institute divides the demands in the Constitution into four areas relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

  • Outstanding issues between Israel and the Palestinians: It is determined that the borders of the State will be those of 1967; a demand for Israel to recognize its responsibility for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem and to recognize their right of return on the basis of UN resolution 194; The State will allow the right of return to internal refugees (1948 Refugees that hold Israeli citizenship) to their original homes and grant them fair compensation;

  • The Character of the State of Israel: Israeli Arabs will be recognized as a 'homeland minority' and Israel will be defined as a bi-lingual multi-cultural State. According to this, a mechanism will be established for cooperation on decision making in the Knesset between the Arab minority and the rest of the State's citizens; 6

  • The Palestinian Right to Self Determination: The Constitution recognizes the right of every nation for self determination and demands that Israel recognize the Palestinian right for self determination and allow the establishment of a Palestinian state with 1967 borders. Similarly, the Constitution determines that each minority and religious group living in Israel is entitled to its own educational, cultural and religious organizations that will be managed by a representative body chosen by the members of that group (in other words, cultural autonomy). The Constitution maintains ambiguity regarding the Jewish right to self determination and its method of realization;

  • The Question of Israeli Arab Representation: The Constitution determines that Israeli Arabs are an inseparable part of the Palestinian nation and that they are entitled to establish familial, social, cultural, religious and economic ties with fellow Palestinians including the right to freedom of movement across borders. However, the Constitution does not address the question of whether Israeli Arabs are entitled to representation in Palestinian or international institutions.

1 Adallah, the Legal Center for Rights of the Arab minority in Israel is a non governmental, non partisan, non profit organization that aims to advance the collective and individual rights of the Arab community in Israel. Click here for Adallah website.

2 The authors of the Constitution ask that it be viewed as a draft, for the period of one year, in order to create a public discussion that will ultimately lead to a final version. Moreover, they ask that the Constitution either be passed as a law and/or be incorporated it in a future Constitution of the State of Israel.

3 Including principles of universal human rights and a demand that Israel adopt and implement them. Moreover, the introduction implies that Israel has a system of government that oppresses and discriminates similar to the apartheid regime in South Africa.

4 The concept of 'homeland minority' that appears in the Constitution refers to a nation that lives in its homeland and has become a minority against its will. The Constitution claims that the rights of an 'indigenous minority' must include, among other things, "those rights that should have been preserved and developed, as much as possible, had they not become a minority in their homeland" (page 3).

5 For example, Section 38 of the Constitution determines that "every group of citizens which has suffered from a policy of injustice and historical discrimination in the allocation of land is entitled to affirmative action based on the principles of distributive justice in the allocation of land and water in planning." Section 39 states that "every person whose land has been expropriated or who's right to property has been violated arbitrarily or because of his or her Arab identity... will be entitled to have his or her property restored and to have to receive compensation for the period during which his or her right of property was denied."

6 Section 20 of the Constitution suggests two possible models for this mechanism that would provide a right of veto to Knesset members from Arab or Arab-Jewish parties in issues relating to the rights of the Arab minority. For example, State symbols would be determined in accordance with section 20.