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(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.
RELATED:Loyalty oath to 'Jewish state' set to be approved'I am not a Zionist, I am a Palestinian and a citizen'
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."
"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
The attempts to question Israel's Jewishness make the law essential, according to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
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.
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."
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
participation in the Gaza flotilla and other events, Lieberman
reportedly said, explains how necessary a loyalty oath is for citizens.