Barak distances himself from proposed loyalty oath

Defense minister proposes version of oath to reflect "liberal" spirit of Declaration of Independence; PM makes statement.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
October 7, 2010 15:32
3 minute read.
Ehud Barak

barak kill 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday distanced himself from proposed changes to the Citizenship Law which would obligate new citizens to pledge their loyalty to Israel as a Jewish State.

A statement released by Barak's office said that "the defense minister and his bureau were not partners in the forming of the legislation and are not included among those proposing this bill."

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"It is a democratic state," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said. "This is deeply ingrained in my soul both as Prime Minister and as a citizen of this country," Netanyahu said in a statement on Thursday. He continued, "What we are doing expresses the nature and character of the State of Israel. This is what we expect of others and of ourselves."

The prime minister reiterated, "The State of Israel is the national state of the Jewish People; it has fully equal rights for Jews and non-Jews, but it is a Jewish and democratic state."

On Wednesday, Netanyahu announced that he will bring to the cabinet on Sunday a proposal whereby naturalized citizens will be asked to take an oath of loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.”

The attempts to question Israel's Jewishness make the law essential, according to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The foreign minister also said the proposed bill has nothing to do with the law of return, but that anyone who wants Israeli citizenship will have to swear loyalty to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Government officials said the decision to bring the loyalty oath to the cabinet at this time is not without political and diplomatic significance, since Israel in recent weeks has countered the Palestinian demand for a total settlement moratorium with its own demand for the PA to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Barak suggested a different version of the loyalty oath be discussed prior to the expected vote on the proposal on Sunday.

The defense minister's proposed version of the oath would have new citizens declaring that they would be "loyal citizens to the State of Israel as a Jewish, democratic state in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, and promise to obey the laws of the state."

Barak stated that a loyalty oath with this formulation would reflect the open and liberal spirit of the Declaration of Independence and the basic principles of the State of Israel. He added that similar loyalty oaths are common in many of the world's most enlightened nations.

The loyalty oath was met with outrage by many Arab Israeli MKs. On Wednesday night, MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) called the proposed loyalty oath to the Jewish state "fascist."

"The State of Israel has reached the height of fascism," Zoabi said. "It's not surprising that this law is being promoted. It fits with other racist and anti-democratic bills that have been raised in the Knesset these days."

"The government, in its racism and stupidity, is pushing the Arab citizens into a corner, and the result will be destructive," Zoabi explained.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday responded, stating that Zoabi's behavior is the reason Israel needs a loyalty oath, Israel Radio reported.

Zoabi's participation in the Gaza flotilla and other events, Lieberman reportedly said, explains how necessary a loyalty oath is for citizens.


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