A controversial law that was meant to crack down on discrimination against Palestinians has drawn widespread condemnation from human rights groups, who say it could have an impact on the rights of all Israeli Jews.
The law passed by the Knesset on Thursday bans discrimination against Israelis on grounds of nationality, religion, gender or disability, and has been denounced by the European Union and by a range of civil society groups.
But critics say the law, which went into effect on Wednesday, is only the latest step in a long-running campaign to stifle the rights and freedom of Israeli Jews, and that the law’s definition of disability is vague and leaves it open to abuse.
The Knessets law was approved after months of debate in the Israeli parliament, where its approval has been a key issue in Israeli politics.
The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was “not a law for us to pass” and that it would be amended to make clear that disability is not a disability, but rather a “legitimate occupational impairment.”
Critics say the legislation will affect all Israeli citizens and undermine freedom of expression and association.
In its new law, the Kivu Human Rights Commission says it will also prohibit discrimination against Jews on the basis of religion, but will allow people with disabilities to apply for special privileges.
The commission also said it will review its previous ruling that forced the construction of a settlement near the West Bank, in which a mosque and a synagogue were demolished in 2010.
The new law also allows businesses to refuse service to those who refuse to wear the kippa, a traditional Jewish garment, or a kippah-like head covering, the commission said.
“The commission will issue a notice of complaint against those who wear the head covering to the commission,” the commission added.
The bill, which was approved by the cabinet in February, is expected to be sent to the Keren Keshet (Knesset) for approval before it goes into effect.