Loyalty oath adds to gathering threat to Arab citizens of Israel

As Knesset reconvenes, the ‘peace process’ is seen as just another term for excluding Israel’s Arab-Palestinian minority from the state

Thursday, 7 October, 2010 - 09:18
London, UK
Haaretz, Knesset, various

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has decided to back a proposed amendment to Israel’s citizenship law, raised in July by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman.

The proposed amendment, due to be presented to the Cabinet for approval on Sunday, demands that non-Jews seeking naturalization in Israel through marriage to Israeli citizens also be required to swear allegiance to “the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state”.

The current version of the law demands allegiance to “the State of Israel.”

The proposed amendment is seen as a further step toward realizing Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s declared election slogan, ‘no loyalty – no citizenship’, aimed at Arab citizens of Israel.

It follows closely on the heels of a speech made by Minister Lieberman to the UN General Assembly in New York, in which he proposed that a Mideast peace deal involve exchanges of population and territory along ethnic definitions. He proposed that parts of Israel with large Arab populations be redefined as part of a future Palestinian state in exchange for Israel retaining parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory that it has illegally settled with Israeli Jews.

Netanyahu, while claiming he had not coordinated the UN speech with his Foreign Minister in advance, did not reject the land swap proposal.

These two developments are seen by the indigenous Palestinian-Arab minority who make up one fifth of Israel’s population as an escalation in measures against them.

The land swap proposal has re-awoken deep-seated fears of transfer in Israel’s Arab community. They fear that the definition of Israel as intrinsically Jewish alongside the founding of an ethnically-defined Palestinian entity would spell immediate danger for Israel’s non-Jewish, Palestinian minority, and gradually lead to their removal from Israel’s body politic and the loss of their civil and political rights.

In response to today’s development, Arab Member of Knesset Dr. Jamal Zahalka said that ‘the only aim of this law is to target Arabs, and it demonstrates that Lieberman has become the guiding spirit of this government.’

This article may be reproduced on condition that JNews is cited as its source

Photo by Abeer Sultan at www.the7eye.org.il

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