Israel has always styled itself as the “only true democracy in the Arab world”, as the “bastion against radicalism” and “outpost of western ideology”. For those outside the penumbra of lobbyists, propagandists and their mindless herds, these proclamations have been taken with a healthy pinch of salt; for the Palestinians, these are nothing short of patronizing platitudes which insult their intelligence. President Benjamin Netanyahu’s “Jewish State Bill” intends to do away with even these meaningless courtesies, it rips away the mask off the Israel and paints it as what it has been for decades; a Jewish ideological apartheid state. The proposed bill, which was passed by the cabinet in a 14-6 vote, has three major tenants: it defines Israel as “the nation state of Jewish people”, it drops Arabic as an official language, spoken by 22% of the population, and states that ancient Jewish law should form the basis of the Israeli legal system.

For the Palestinian Israeli citizen, this doesn’t change much on the ground. While the state has defined itself as an egalitarian, there are countless laws which relegate the Palestinians to second-class citizens. Discriminatory laws in land procurement, rights of political participation, education, travel, and criminal procedures already exist and function, without much international hue and cry. Yet, this bill will give constitutional legitimacy to all the inhumane horrors that are meted out to the Palestinians every day. This seems part of a conscious push by the right-wing coalitions. It has revived the policy of destroying homes of people accused of attacking Israel as a punitive measure, it blocked access to the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, which lead to widespread protests, and has continued building settlements by knocking down Palestinian villages and forcibly evicting residents. All this follows harrowing months of indiscriminate bombardment of the Gaza strip which have left behind a trail of blood and simmering resentment.

This violent undercurrent is soon to boil over; there has been a steady increase in clashes at protest and the death of the Palestinian Authority(PA) minister, Zaid Abu Ein, at the hands of the Israeli Defence force (IDF), who beat and choked the 55 year old, at a peaceful protest, may just be the tipping point. There have been widespread calls for the end of security cooperation between the PA and the IDF in the Gaza Strip. It seems that the Holy Lands are headed for another wave of unrest.

It is difficult to understand this hardening of the Israeli stance; it not only enrages the restive Palestinians, but further alienates the international community which is already starting to rally behind the Palestinian cause; creating problems for itself.