On the day before Arab League foreign ministers were to gather in Libya and
discuss whether the Palestinian Authority should continue direct talks with
Israel without a settlement moratorium, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
stressed publicly at two events Thursday the Jewish people’s link to the Land of
Israel, and the nature of Israel as a Jewish state.
His words came a day
after he announced that he would bring a proposal to the cabinet on Sunday that
naturalized citizens who were not eligible to immigrate under the Law of Return
must declare an oath of loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish, democratic
state.”RELATED:Loyalty oath to 'Jewish state' set to be approved'I am not a Zionist, I am a Palestinian and a citizen'
Though Netanyahu’s aides denied there was any connection between
the prime minister’s comments and the diplomatic process, it was hard to shake
the notion that his words were either meant to appease the right wing of his
coalition on the eve of a possible decision to extend the
settlement-construction moratorium, or aimed at the Arab League and PA President
Mahmoud Abbas, who adamantly refuse to recognize Israel as the nation-state of
the Jewish people.
“The nature of the State of Israel is that it is the
national state of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said during a visit to Lod in
the morning. “It is a Jewish state, but it is also a democratic
Noting that non-Jews lived in the country and “fully deserve
equal rights in the Israeli democracy,” and that the country was a “democratic
state, in the spirit of our Declaration of Independence,” Netanyahu said it was
still both natural and valid to ask those seeking to join the country to pledge
allegiance to Israel as a Jewish, democratic state.
In the afternoon, at
a memorial service marking nine years since the assassination of tourism
minister Rehavam Ze’evi, Netanyahu said that the question of the Jewish people’s
historic ties to Israel was central, “the basis of
Regardless of what the eventual solution to the diplomatic
conflict here will be, he said, and regardless of one’s political leanings, on
an ideological and principled level, “no one should deny the Jewish people’s
connection throughout the generations to the Land of Israel.
not educate our children to see any part of our ancestral inheritance as a
foreign land,” he went on. “We do not need to alter the historic truth because
of a practical need.”
The loyalty oath bill is expected to pass by a wide
margin. Only the five Labor Party ministers and ministers Bennie Begin and Dan
Meridor of the Likud are expected to oppose it.
Even dovish Likud
minister Michael Eitan endorsed the bill on Thursday.
But Netanyahu could
face problems if the bill causes a rebellion in Labor. Party chairman Ehud Barak
said he could support the bill with minor changes.
But Welfare and Social
Services Minister Isaac Herzog demanded a Labor ministerial meeting to decide
how to block the bill, and MK Ghaleb Majadle said Labor must quit the coalition
over the legislation.
“Labor is shaming itself time and time again and
proving that its presence in the government has no impact other than covering up
abomination after abomination,” Meretz leader Haim Oron said.
a Ma’agar Mohot poll broadcast on Israel Radio on Thursday found that support
for Israel Beiteinu had grown substantially.
The poll found that if
elections were held now, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s party would rise
from 15 seats to 21.