Nakba bill on way back to committee

Likud official: Legislation to appear for renewed debate in next two weeks; six ministers oppose law

Lieberman talks to his supporters 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Lieberman talks to his supporters 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Nakba Law, which was passed Sunday in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, spurring a maelstrom of criticism is on its way back to the Cabinet for renewed debate rather than to the Knesset, a Likud official told the Post late Monday night. After sailing through the committee with only two ministers - Minister for Improvement of Government Services Michael Eitan and Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog - opposing the bill, the proposal is now expected to face a more balanced fight upon its return to the government, with the debate slated to be renewed within the next two weeks. Eitan, together with Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor and Minister without Portfolio Benny Begin, submitted an appeal of the committee's decision Monday afternoon, hours after three Labor ministers - Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog, Agriculture Minister Shalom Shimhon and Minorities Minister Avishay Braverman - submitted an similar appeal to the bill on Monday morning. The bill, proposed by Israel Beiteinu MK Alex Miller, would make it illegal to mark Israel's Independence Day as a day of mourning. "This bill harms freedom of speech and right to demonstrate, which are basic rights in a democratic country. This bill will increase the isolation and alienation felt by the Israeli Arab community and will strengthen radical elements within it," the appeal stated. Although Labor chairman Ehud Barak and Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer refrained from commenting directly on whether they supported or opposed the bill, Herzog - the lone Labor minister sitting on the ministerial legislative committee - opposed it there. If the Labor Party remains divided on the bill, its passage through the Knesset is virtually guaranteed. Only if the entire Labor faction opposes the bill and they are joined by an additional five Likud members would the bill be blocked. Government Services Minister Michael Eitan (Likud) also opposed the legislation in the committee, leaving the bill a total of four votes away from deadlock in its preliminary reading. Meanwhile, Israel Beiteinu announced Monday that it would bring a bill requiring all citizens to make a loyalty oath up for ministerial vote next Sunday. The draft of the legislation makes receipt of a national identification card - usually granted at age 16 - for all people born in Israel conditional on signing a statement and taking a loyalty oath. The law would bestow considerable power upon the interior minister, who would have the right to revoke the citizenship of any person who fails to fulfill their commitment to serve in the IDF or any alternative national service. "Receiving citizenship under law will be contingent on a loyalty oath," the bill reads, and goes on to propose that the text of the oath read: "I commit to being loyal to the State of Israel as a Jewish, democratic and Zionist state, to its symbols and values and to serve the country as needed through military service or an alternative service, as decided by law." Miller and fellow Israel Beiteinu MKs David Rotem, Robert Ilatov and Moshe Matalon wrote as part of the bill that "the connection between citizenship and loyalty is impossible to break." MK Yuli Tamir (Labor) - a Labor rebel on the party's left wing - told Army Radio on Monday that "the string of proposals brought forth by Israel Beiteinu is intended to cause unrest within the Israeli Arab community and will lead Israel into a confrontation that will see waves of hate and violence that Israel Beiteinu thrives on. Labor's presence in this coalition with Israel Beiteinu lends legitimization and support to the racist proceedings that hurt the ability of Israeli society to move forward." But Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon rebutted claims Monday afternoon that this bill would strengthen the extremists. "The radicalization of Israeli Arabs did not start with this law," he told Israel Radio, "It started long before that." According to Ayalon, "there are people who act against the state, people who call for the extermination of the state. This is already happening. Any other country in the world would not stand by while its celebrations of independence are turned into a memorial service." President Shimon Peres, meanwhile, responded Monday to a journalist's question on the bill by saying that no decision by the Knesset could overrule the feelings of any person. Greer Fay Cashman and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report