Sunday, October 10, 2010

Loyalty Oath Deemed Ploy In Settlement Freeze

Jerusalem – Israel's cabinet gave overwhelming support today to requiring an oath of loyalty to a “Jewish and democratic state” of new non-Jewish citizens.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said 22 ministers gave their assent against a tally of 8 in opposition. The proposed legislation will next be addressed by the full parliament.

Under the proposal, Jewish persons returning to Israel as new citizens or those who have converted, would be exempted from the requirement.

“Democracy is the soul of Israel and we cannot do without it,” Mr. Netanyahu said. He cited the Declaration of Independence, which states that Israel is both the “national state of the Jewish people” and a democratic state “in which all its citizens – Jewish and non-Jewish – enjoy fully equal rights.”

Non-Jewish critics immediately claimed the move is a signal that Israel is pushing for an extension of the freeze on new settlements in the West Bank while at the same time working hard to maintain the coalition forged by the Netanyahu regime.

Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi said that Israel is “discriminative in its policies and laws against all who are not Zionists,” adding that the proposed law “not only discriminates between Jews and non-Jews, it also discriminates between Zionist Jews and non-Zionist Jews.”

The moratorium on new settlements in the West Bank expired on September 28 and stalled Arab-Israeli peace talks seem to hinge on whether Israel will extend the ban on new construction.

The right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, which is a member of the coalition, denied the proposal has anything to do with an extension of the settlement moratorium. “We have been talking about passing this law even before the elections and it is part of our coalition agreement,” said David Rotem, a Knesset member for the party.

Israel is home to 6 million Jews and 1.5 million Arabs.

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