JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet will take up a loyalty oath requiring new citizens to swear allegiance to “the State of Israel — a Jewish and democratic state.”
Netanyahu on Wednesday agreed to attach a statement of allegiance to Israel’s Citizenship Law that would require the pledge.
“Israel is the national state of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said in a statement released Wednesday evening by his office. “This is a basic principle that guides the government in its policies, foreign and domestic. It is a cornerstone of Israeli legislation and is the expressed terminology of the Jewish, democratic state.
“This principle will appear in the declaration of loyalty for anyone who requests to become a citizen.”
Netanyahu reportedly had attempted to soften the wording proposed by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman but was unsuccessful.
If the pledge passes Sunday’s Cabinet vote, as expected, it will advance to the Knesset’s legislative committee and finally to the full Knesset.
Avidgor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu Party praised the decision, saying it fulfills part of the government’s coalition agreement.
“Every citizen is obligated to preserve Israel and a Jewish and democratic state, and all the more so when one aspires to become an Israeli citizen,” the party said in a statement. “This is a vital, basic need, especially when there are those who wish to undermine it.”
Arab-Israeli lawmaker Ahmed Tibi slammed the proposed amendment.
“It is meant to cement the Arabs’ inferior class status by law,” Tibi said. “No amendment will be able to negate the Palestinian narrative, which has been recognized worldwide.”