Lieberman's Party to Seek Cabinet Okay for Loyalty Oath

Civil rights lawyer denounces Yisrael Beiteinu bill as 'total fascism,' a violation of democracy.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party plans to propose controversial legislation requiring citizens to swear loyalty to the state, a party spokesman said on Monday.

The party intends to seek cabinet approval for the bill before presenting it to the Knesset where it would have to pass three votes and a committee review before taking effect, according to the spokesman.

The proposal was a key part of Yisrael Beiteinu's campaign in February's general election, in which it grew to Israel's third largest political party.

The bill calls for enabling the interior minister to lift someone's citizenship if he or she fails to either serve in the Israel Defense Forces or do a term of national service.

Party spokesman Tal Nahum said the measure would require all Israelis to declare loyalty "to the state of Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state" before they can be issued a national identity document. The law requires all Israeli residents over 16 carry their identity cards at all times.

Nahum said the cabinet would discuss the bill on Sunday.

"I think we can reach a situation in which citizens of our country will not mark a day of mourning for the establishment of the country they live in," the MK who sponsored the bill, Alex Miller, told Army Radio.

The bills appear to not have the support necessary to win parliamentary approval.

Nonetheless, they drew furious reactions from Arab parties and civil rights groups.

Arab MK Hanna Swaid (Hadash) called Miller's bill racist, saying it eliminates the right of Arab citizens to pronounce their identity and national feelings.

Oded Feller, a lawyer for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, denounced the bill as "total fascism" and a violation of democracy.

"It's more than a violation of human rights, but blatant interference with the basic rights of citizens, and destructive for democracy," Feller told Reuters.