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Political storm erupts in Israel over proposed loyalty oath

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Political storm erupts in Israel over proposed loyalty oath

Heated debate has erupted in Israel after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided yesterday to present a controversial bill to the cabinet on Sunday which would require those applying to become naturalized citizens to declare an oath of loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.” The oath will not be required of those who are already Israeli citizens, but rather to newcomers. It is specifically aimed at Palestinians marrying Israeli Arabs or otherwise requesting citizenship. “Israel is the national state of the Jewish people,” said Netanyahu, who dropped his opposition to the bill proposed by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman. “This is a basic principle that guides the government in its policies, foreign and domestic. It is a cornerstone of Israeli legislation.” Several left-wing and Arab groups in Israel expressed outrage at the idea, but Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who advocates a much tougher pledge of allegiance from even natural-born citizens, said on Thursday that this was simply evidence of how much an oath of loyalty was needed. Lieberman specifically mentioned the conduct of MK Haneen Zoabi, a Christian Arab who participated in the hostile Gaza aid flotilla in May and has been a fierce critic of attempts to define Israel as a Jewish state. "The government, in its racism and stupidity, is pushing the Arab citizens into a corner, and the result will be destructive," Zoabi responded on Wednesday.

 

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