‘Loyalty oath’ still being considered

Barak, Hauser spar over delay erecting barrier along Egyptian border.

ehud barak 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
ehud barak 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Cabinet officials clarified on Monday that a new provision whereby illegal residents who are married to Israelis and asking for citizenship would have to declare allegiance to Israel as a “Jewish, democratic state” has not yet been approved, and that the matter is still under consideration.
At a special cabinet meeting Monday to discuss a comprehensive policy regarding migration into Israel, both Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor and Minister without Portfolio Bennie Begin came out against the idea.
Meridor said that it would send the wrong message to Israeli Arabs, and Begin said that since this decision would have far-reaching ramifications, it necessitated a comprehensive discussion. The cabinet is expected to discuss the matter again next week.
The cabinet has met over the past two days to formulate a comprehensive policy regarding migration into Israel, one that would deal not only with the thousands of illegal residents coming into Israel each year from Africa over the Egyptian border, but also with Palestinians who gain Israeli citizenship by virtue of marriage to Israeli Arabs.
On Sunday the cabinet decided to extend the 2003 Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (temporary provisions) until the end of January, leading to confusion over whether the loyalty oath, which was discussed in the cabinet along with this provision, was also approved.
On Monday, at a special session, the cabinet passed two other provisions of the larger migration reform, but continued to skirt around the issue of the loyalty oath.
Instead, the cabinet charged Defense Minister Ehud Barak with preparing, within 14 days, a memorandum for a law to prevent infiltration, and also agreed to set up two ministerial committees. The first committee will examine the possibility of sending infiltrators to third countries if they come from countries, like Sudan, with whom Israel does not have diplomatic relations. The second committee will deal with the creation of disincentives for infiltrators – such as punishing employers of illegal aliens.
Netanyahu said that Israel was facing a flood of economic refugees from Africa that, if not stemmed, would threaten the democratic and Jewish nature of the state. The police estimate that there are some 155,000 infiltrators from Africa who have come into the country over the past few years via the border with Egypt.
Last March the cabinet approved the construction of a barrier along the 240 km. border with Egypt, and at Monday’s meeting tension boiled over as to why work on this project was being delayed.
When cabinet secretary Tzvi Hauser complained that the Defense Ministry’s planning for the barrier was not going according to schedule, and that the plans for the barrier were supposed to be completed by the end of July, Barak reportedly snapped that Hauser was a state employee who was entitled to speak at the cabinet meeting only with the prime minister’s permission.
Barak also reportedly said sarcastically to Hauser that he understood that as a lawyer, Hauser had rich experience moving projects of this size. After Netanyahu intervened and said that Hauser was the cabinet secretary and not a private attorney, Barak apologized. The Defense Minister said that the tenders for the project have been issued.
Security official said that work on the barrier would begin in November.
Netanyahu also instructed Barak to brief the security cabinet every three months on progress of the NIS 1.4 billion project.