Labor Expects New Settlement Freeze as Payoff for Loyalty Oath

Junior coalition partner furious after PM hands victory to right-wingers with backing for citizenship requirement of pledging loyalty to 'Jewish democratic state.'

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Labor party ministers angered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's snap decision to back a controversial citizenship loyalty oath said late Wednesday that they expected a new freeze in settlement building as a payoff.

Netanyahu neglected to inform his Labor coalition partners that he had approved a right-wing minister's draft of a new oath that would require any non-Jew taking Israeli citizenship to swear allegiance to Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state."

Defense Minister Ehud BarakCredit: Archive

The move paves the way for a vote in the Knesset and was hailed as victory by ultra-nationalist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party, Netanyahu's major coalition partner.

But the prime minister must perform a balancing act. Allies at both ends of the political spectrum and the Labor party hope that his latest concession is a sop to right-wingers ahead of a decision to renew a ban on settlement building in the West Bank – a key demand of the left.

"I hope that Netanyahu's support is a payoff to Lieberman, so that the prime minister will be able to extend the freeze without breaking apart his coalition," said one Labor minister, who declined to be named.

U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, which began a month ago, have faltered since Netanyahu's government refused to extend a 10-month settlement freeze that expired in late September.

"Netanyahu is under heavy pressure from the Americans," the minister said. "I presume that he intends to announce an extension of the freeze soon.

Two of Labor's four ministers issued public responses to the new loyalty oath proposal, expected to be approved by the government on Sunday.

"The decision is outrageous and irresponsible," said Minority Affairs Minister Avishai Braverman, calling on Labor leader Ehud Barak to convene an immediate debate in the party with the aim of blocking the move.

Welfare Minister Yitzhak Herzog also issued a statement condemning the proposal.

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

בנימין נתניהו השקת ספר

Netanyahu’s Israel Is About to Slam the Door on the Diaspora

עדי שטרן

Head of Israel’s Top Art Academy Leads a Quiet Revolution

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

Skyscrapers in Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv.

Israel May Have Caught the Worst American Disease, New Research Shows

ג'אמיל דקוור

Why the Head of ACLU’s Human Rights Program Has Regrets About Emigrating From Israel

ISRAEL-VOTE

Netanyahu’s Election Win Dealt a Grievous Blow to Judaism