PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Sunday, reiterated Palestine’s commitment to tolerance, inclusiveness and democracy.

She said in a press release, “As the birthplace of monotheistic religions and multiple civilizations, Palestine is and must remain an important home for religious tolerance and coexistence. It has always sought to ensure cultural integration, inclusiveness and diversity within all components of Palestinian society.”

Ashrawi’s comments came in response to the Israeli Knesset’s approval of the first reading of a draft law that defines Israel as ‘the Jewish and democratic nation state of the Jewish people’ and affirms ‘the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their historic homeland.’

One of the bill’s sponsors, MK Avi Dichter, said, “anyone who does not belong to the Jewish nation cannot define the State of Israel as his nation-state.”

She said that this exclusionary measure undoubtedly constitutes institutionalized racism and violates international laws and conventions.

Ashrawi added, according to WAFA, that Israel is not held to account whenever it uses extreme and cruel measures against an entire nation in captivity or when its officials and leaders make inflammatory and racist statements and employ discriminatory measures; in actuality, they are met with a deafening silence.

She criticized the scrutiny Palestinians are subjected to in spite of being the victims. She said, “Palestinians are extensively and intensively scrutinized, always held to account and expected to behave as a model and subdued people suffering under a belligerent and military occupation.”

“In spite of enduring such selective and discriminatory steps, we will remain committed to building an inclusive, democratic and humanitarian state consistent with the norms and values of contemporary civilized behavior and the body of laws adopted by the international community,” Ashrawi affirmed.

She said that the Palestinian leadership is firmly committed to maintaining social justice and safeguarding fundamental freedoms, human dignity and democracy in compliance with the Palestine Declaration of Independence which calls for ‘equal rights, free of ethnic, sectarian, racial or gender discrimination.’ These are the values that we embrace and cherish.

“The nature of our struggle is one of freedom, dignity and human rights. It is disingenuous to attempt to impose on it religious, absolutist or exclusionary dimensions,” she added.

On the other hand, with its systematic adoption and implementation of unlawful and racist policies and legislation, the Israeli government is claiming superior rights for one group on the basis of religious affiliation or ethnicity or identity.  Such exclusivity is unacceptable and antithetical to the most basic norms of legal, civil and moral behavior, Ashrawi concluded.

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