Israeli Arab MK: Loyalty Oath Relegates Israel's Palestinian Citizens to Inferior Status

In a New York Times op-ed, Ahmed Tibi says the loyalty oath is a 'punch in the gut to Palestinians who for more than 60 years have struggled to achieve equal rights in Israel.'

Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi said Thursday in an op-ed in The New York Times that Israel's loyalty oath bill is "an attempt to relegate Palestinian citizens of Israel to inferior status."

Tibi said that the loyalty oath, which requires non-Jewish immigrants to pledge allegiance to Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state", is akin to the United States requiring Mexican immigrants to swear allegiance to a U.S. that is white and Protestant, while pardoning immigrants from Europe of the obligation.

Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi
Olivier Pitussi

In response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's efforts to later rectify the unequal application of the oath with his call to impose it on Jews as well, Tibi said that "swearing allegiance to an Israel that is Jewish and democratic" is still "logically inconsistent".

"Palestinian citizens of Israel comprise 20 percent of the population. The insistence of some Jewish leaders on the state being 'Jewish' is a punch in the gut to Palestinians who for more than 60 years have struggled to achieve equal rights in Israel," Tibi said.

Tibi denounced Netanyahu's recent offer to extend Israel's moratorium on settlement construction in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, saying that "Netanyahu’s proposals are the words of a man with no interest in advancing peace."

Tibi further emphasized the implications of the loyalty oath, saying that it forces people to declare the Palestinian side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as null and void.

"A Jewish state of Israel hurts not just refugees and Palestinian citizens of Israel, but seeks to impose a narrative on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that reduces the Palestinian side to a sham and raises up the Zionist account as truth."

Calling on the U.S to invite Israeli Arabs to congress to testify about the discrimination they face, Tibi warned the Obama administration of supporting an Israeli government that propagates such unequal treatment.

"The United States will not be regarded as such a leader so long as it is content to back and encourage an Israeli leadership recklessly racing to enshrine the legal superiority of Jews over Palestinians."

To read the full New York Times op-ed click here.