Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party is moving closer to fulfilling one of its campaign promises, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to bring part of the controversial “loyalty oath” proposal before the cabinet on Sunday.
The proposal, which is widely expected to pass, would demand any prospective non-Jewish citizen swear an oath not just to the Israeli government as such, but to the notion of the Israeli state as a “Jewish state.” The demand would not apply to people under the “Law of Return,” so new Jewish immigrants would not be affected by the requirement.
This is only a small part of what Foreign Minister Lieberman envisioned, which was to require all non-Jewish citizens to take such an oath or have their citizenship stripped from them. The current proposal would only apply to new citizens and not to those already in Israel.
Still the matter is controversial, if only for the precedent it sets toward the demand for similar oaths of other citizens further down the road. Roughly 20% of Israel’s population is not Jewish, and a number of opposition parties catering to them have sought to guarantee equality for all citizens. Yisrael Beiteinu and other more hawkish parties have attempted to ban such parties for “disloyalty.”
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