Israel has developed an elaborate system of racial discrimination against non-Jewish citizens, embedded in its legal system, rivaling and in some ways exceeding Apartheid South Africa's laws. A comprehensive description of these can be found here. A summary is provided below. Among a shifting plethora of quasi-constitutional, discriminatory Basic Laws, there are:
* The Law of Entry This denies entry into Israel of Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens.
* The Law of Return All Jews from anywhere in the world are considered members of Am Yisrael, "nationals" of Israel entitled to live in the self-declared Jewish state, while Palestinians dispossessed from their homes and lands are prohibited from returning despite their internationally declared right to do so. All non-Jews, in fact, are classified as non-nationals. Jews wishing to live in Israel do not emigrate, but simply "return" (make aliyah) and become eligible to benefit from privileges reserved to nationals including services of the supra-state institutions controlling Israeli land and resources - the Jewish National Fund, World Zionist Organization, Jewish Agency, and Israel Land Authority.
* The Law of Acquisition of Absentee Property Properties of Arabs absent for even short periods between November 1947 and May 1948 - during the Nakba - were confiscated and given to Jews.
* The Law for Acquisition of Land Non-Jews cannot buy or lease land owned by the state or by non-state "national institutions" such as the Jewish National Fund and Israeli Land Authority that together hold 92% of Israel's land "on behalf of the Jewish people."
* The Citizenship Law Only Jews can be "citizen nationals" eligible for a variety of institutional benefits and privileges.
* The Military Service Law Arabs cannot serve and are therefore ineligible for numerous benefits of those who do.
* Many legally sanctioned, discriminatory rabbinical rulings
As a result, Palestinian citizens of Israel are denied the benefit of normal democratic institutions in virtually every area of life:
Equal rights Palestinians are denied various welfare benefits, access to many jobs, and equal protection of the laws. Public Services Electricity, sewerage, and roads are provided free to Israeli households, whereas many Palestinian communities in Israel, and especially in the Occupied Territories, have existed for decades without adequate services. Some within Israel are not even shown on the official map.
Land ownership Laws governing land ownership blatantly discriminate against Palestinians. Indeed, land ownership in Palestine is more unjust than it ever was in South Africa; at the height of apartheid, black people nominally controlled 13 percent of the land, whereas in Israel the Palestinians - with 20% of the population - now control only 2 percent of the land. In historic Palestine, Arab land ownership was 93% in 1947, quickly reduced to about 25% in 1948, and has steadily eroded ever since by the 1967 invasion, subsequent confiscation and the violence of the bulldozer.
IN MORE DETAIL
1. Identity and Citizenship
Law of Return (1950)
Grants right of immigration to Jews born anywhere in the world. Amended in 1970 to extend this right to "a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew." A "Jew" is defined as "a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion."
Non-Jewish native-born Palestinians - most importantly those who fled during the Zionist massacres in 1947 and 1948 - are in most cases prevented from returning. Nationality (/Citizenship) Law (1952)
Confers automatic citizenship upon all who immigrate under the Law of Return. Non-Jews - including native-born Palestinians - must prove residency and pass other tests; citizenship is granted at the discretion of the Minister of the Interior.
Under the new interim policy for "family unification" passed by the Israeli Cabinet in 2002, and made part of the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law by the Knesset in 2003, a discriminatory system has been put in place preventing applications for residency or citizenship from Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens. Population Registry Law (1965)
Requires all residents of Israel to register their nationality - Jewish, Arab, Druze - with the Population Registry and to obtain an identity card carrying this information.
Identity Card (Possession and Presentation) Law (1982)
Residents must carry identity cards at all times and present them to "senior police officers, to the heads of local authorities, or to police officers or soldiers on duty when requested to do so."
Absentee Property Law (1950)
Classifies the personal property of Palestinians who fled during the Zionist terror campaign of 1947/48 as "absentee property" and places it within the power of the Custodian of Absentee Property. According to the law, even the property of Palestinians who are present within the newly created state of Israel, but are not physically present on their property ("internal refugees"), becomes "absentee property." This creates the category of "present absentees." Land Acquisition (Validity of Acts and Compensation) Law (1953)
Confiscates the land of more than 400 Palestinian villages; "validates" retroactively their use for military purposes and for Jewish settlements. Development Authority (Transfer of Property Law) (1950)
Transfers confiscated Palestinian villages and private property to the Development Authority, which is empowered to dispose of it in the interests of the State, giving priorty to the Jewish National Fund - a Zionist organization aimed at settling Jewish immigrants to Israel. Both the JNF and the Jewish Agency - organizations that act exclusively in the interest of Jews - take on the status of quasi-governmental organizations within the framework of the Development Authority Law. World Zionist Organization (Jewish Agency (Status) Law (1952)
Establishes the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency as organizations with governmental status in fulfilling Zionist objectives - the immigration and settlement of Jews in Palestine.
National Planning and Building Law (1965)
Creates a system of discriminatory zoning that freezes existing Arab villages while providing for the expansion of Jewish settlements. The law also re-classifies a large number of Arab villages as "non-residential" creating the "unrecognized villages." These villages do not receive basic municipal services such as water and electricity; all buildings are threatened with demolition orders. Land Acquisition in the Negev (Peace Treaty with Egypt) Law (1980)
Seizes thousands of dunums of land from Bedouins for the purpose of expanding Jewish settlements.
3. Political Participation
Section 7A(1) of the Basic Law: The Knesset (1958), passed in 1985 Bars a list of candidates from participation in elections to the Knesset "if its aims or actions, expressly or by implication" deny "the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people." The Law of Political Parties (1992)
Bars the Registrar of Political Parties from registering a political party if it denies "the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic State."
In 2002 both Section 7A(1) of the Basic Law: the Knesset and the Law of Political Parties were amended further to bar those whose goals or actions, directly or indirectly, "support armed struggle of an enemy state or of a terror organization, against the State of Israel." These amendments were added expressly to curtail the political participation of Palestinian Arabs within Israel - such as Azmi Bishara - who have expressed solidarity with Palestinians resisting military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.
4. Judicial Practice: Equal Protection Cases
The Israeli courts - guided by the Supreme Court - have consistently decided that discrimination between Arabs and Jews is legitimate based on the founding principles of Israel as a state for the Jewish people; "nationality" is considered a legitimate basis for discrimination.
In the State of Israel vs. Ashgoyev (1988), an Israeli settler was convicted by the Tel Aviv District Court of shooting a Palestinian child. The judge sentenced him to a suspended jail term of six months and community service. When challenged by critics, the trial judge, Uri Shtruzman, said: "It is wrong to demand in the name of equality, equal bearing and equal sentences to two offenders who have different nationalities who break the laws of the State. The sentence that deters the one and his audience, does not deter the other and his community." Defense (Emergency) Regulations
During the Arab revolt against British colonialism in Palestine from 1936-1939, the British government enacted a series "Defense Orders" and "Emergency Regulations" that imposed martial law upon the Arab population. These laws were consolidated in 1945 as the Defense (Emergency) Regulations and imposed upon the entire population, including Zionists who were then seeking full control of Palestine independently of their British sponsors. Yacob Shimshon Shapira--who would later become the Israeli Attorney General and Minister of Justice--said before a meeting of the Jewish Bar Association in Tel Aviv in 1946 to protest the regulations:
"The regime established in Palestine with the publication of the Emergency Regulations is quite unique for enlightened countries. Even Nazi Germany didn't have such laws, and acts such as those perpetrated at Maidanek actually ran against the letter of German law. It is true we are assured that the Regulations are aimed solely against offenders and not against the entire population, but it will be remembered that the Nazi governor of occupied Oslo, too, declared no harm would befall citizens who would just go about their business as usual.
No government is entitled to enact legislation of this kind..." 
Just as the Zionists had made no protest during the period when such laws were used only against Arabs - and in the interest of the official British policy of Zionist colonization - after the foundation of Israel in 1948, the Knesset passed a series of laws extending their applicability under the newly formed government, and thereby imposed martial law upon the entire Arab Palestinian population. The Defense (Emergency) Regulations gave military commanders full authority to imprison people without trial, to bar travel, to demolish homes, and to seize property. This last power played a significant role in further dispossessing Arab Palestinians of their land. Regulation 125 gives a Military Commander the power to declare any area or place to be a "closed area" and makes it a violation of the law for any person to enter or leave "without a permit in writing issued by or on behalf of the Military Commander."
"...from 1948 the Israeli authorities used this regulation to close villages, extensive tracts of arable land and towns for the purpose of expropriating them. Every Arab village or town, whether inhabited or not, was declared to be a separate closed area. Arabs were not allowed to leave their village or town, even for the purpose of cultivating their lands or collecting their olives or fruits, unless they obtained a military permit to do so. Any Arab who contravened this order was brought before a Military Court and summarily tried. An atmosphere of fear, terror and oppression reigned in Arab areas. Every other night or so, military units combed villages and towns, collected Arabs from their homes and sent them in military trucks to the Lebanese border or the Jordanian armistice line and ordered them, under threat of being shot, to cross to the other side." 
Although military rule was partially lifted in 1966, after the 1967 invasion of the remainder of Palestine the entire system of military administration was once again used in full force in the newly occupied territories. Thus the power of military commanders to declare "closed areas" is now being used extensively in the building of the Apartheid wall and in the seizure of lands between the wall and the Green Line for use in rapid settlement expansion.
In addition, various parts of the Defense (Emergency) Regulations have remained in force within Green Line and are increasingly being invoked since the Palestinian uprising of 2000.
In 2002, for example, Minister of Interior Eli Yishai began invoking his power under Emergency Regulations (Foreign Travel) (1948) to prevent Arab political leaders from leaving the country. (Adalah's Report Recent Developments--The Rights of the Palestinian Minority in Israel, 2 October 2002).
The Emergency Powers (Detention) Law (1979) has been used to detain Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel without benefit of trial and without permitting contact with lawyers.
The Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (1948) classifies as indictable for up to five years in prison an act which "sympathizes with a terrorist organization" and includes "flying a flag or displaying a symbol or slogan or by causing an anthem or slogan to be heard." After the Palestinian uprising of 2000, the state began using this ordinance to punish Arab Palestinian political leaders with Israeli Citizenship who have expressed support for the Palestinian resistance to the occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Press Ordinance (1933) requires that all newspapers must gain a permit from the state in order to publish; article 19 gives the Minister of the Interior the power to stop publication. In conjunction with Article 94 of the Defense (Emergency) Regulations (1945) a regional supervisor has the power to determine "as he sees fit, and without providing any reasons" those newspapers which can be legally published. During the First and Second Intifadas these laws have been used to close Arabic language newspapers that express support for the uprisings.
These and other ordinances have been used to violate the basic human rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel in key areas such as freedom of movement, freedom of expression, and the protection against arbitrary detentions and seizures of property.
Discussion based on "Israeli Land Seizure under Various Defense and Emergency Regulations," by Hanna Dib Nakkara, Journal of Palestine Studies, 1985
 Ibid., quoting Ha Praklit (The Solicitor), February 1946
 Ibid, p. 15
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