Netanyahu Wants Loyalty Oath Bill to Include Jews as Well

PM instructs Justice Minister to draft a bill extending the loyalty oath, in which non-Jews are required to pledge allegiance to 'the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state,' to Jewish immigrants as well.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Justice Minister Ya'akov Ne'eman on Monday to prepare a new bill extending the loyalty oath, which is currently aimed at non-Jews, to include Jewish immigrants as well.

"We expect that every person wishing to become an Israeli citizen recognize Israel as a Jewish and democratic state," Netanyahu said on Monday evening.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, AP, Oct. 11, 2010

"There is broad approval among the Israeli public regarding the Jewish and democratic identity of Israel, and that is not incidental. The state of Israel was founded as the sovereign state of the Jewish people and as a democratic state in which all its citizens – Jews and non-Jews alike – enjoy equal rights. Any person wishing to become an Israeli citizen must recognize these two key principals."

Last week, cabinet ministers approved by a majority vote a controversial amendment to the Citizenship Law which would require every non-Jew wishing to become a citizen of Israel to pledge loyalty to "the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state."

At the time, Ne'eman suggested rewording the draft of the proposed loyalty oath to include Jews and non-Jews alike.

On Monday, Netanyahu has decided to have Ne'eman draft a proposal wherein Jewish immigrants who are granted citizenship under the Law of Return to also be required to say the loyalty oath.

According to sources close to the prime minister, Netanyahu has not changed his stance on the bill. Apparently, Netanyahu already showed his support of this addition to the bill during the cabinet meeting in which the initial loyalty oath bill was approved.

Following Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein's hesitations on the bill, Netanyahu asked Ne'eman during the meeting to examine the option of extending the loyalty oath to Jews as well.

In response to Netanyahu's request, Ahmed Tibi, Chairman of the United Arab List-Taal,
said "the idea in its original form is bad."

"There is no place for this version, not for Jews or for Arabs, unless someone feels the need to give in to Lieberman's whims or to battle his fascism," said Tibi. "Forcing a principal ethical identity on Jews and Arabs as one is completely unnecessary. It is redundant and is an attempt to enforce an ideology which Jews and Arabs need to adamantly oppose."

Last week, leader of the opposition and Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni condemned the loyalty oath bill, calling it "politics at its worst."

Hadash chairman Mohammed Barakeh blamed Netanyahu and Barak for supporting and promoting "mega-racist legislation."

Israeli Arab MK Talab al-Sana said that "the amendment is a serious blow to democracy and will cause the exclusion of 20 percent of the country's citizens... [It] will situate Israel as the successor of Apartheid-era South Africa."