Elections 2009 / Netanyahu: Lieberman campaign against Israeli Arabs is 'legitimate'
PM hopeful says far-right rival's 'No citizenship without loyalty' campaign like bill Likud already proposed.
Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday branded as "legitimate" rival prime ministerial candidate Avigdor Lieberman's electoral campaign against Israeli Arabs.
"This is a legitimate bill, which has already been proposed by Likud MK Yisrael Katz, but the problem with it is enforcement. It is legitimate to demand that the citizens of a state should be loyal to it," said Netanyahu in an interview with Channel 2.
Netanyahu was referring to Lieberman's vow to pass a citizenship law that will "prevent the disloyalty of some of Israel's Arabs."
Lieberman's hardline Yisrael Beiteinu has built its campaign ahead of next week's general election around the slogan: "No citizenship without loyalty," which is directed at Israeli Arabs, some of whom the party accuses of constituting a fifth column.
Netanyahu also dismissed expressions of pity made by Lieberman toward him on Wednesday over an "intifada" he said was being waged within the Likud.
"[I'm] thankful for his concern, but everyone needs to worry about his party," the Likud chairman said.
Netanyahu's main rival Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni also touched on the issue of Israeli Arabs on Thursday when she said that all Israeli citizens should be obliged to enlist for military or national service. This was an apparent reference to the exemption from service of Israeli Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox.