The proposed loyalty oath came a step closer to law Sunday after winning Cabinet approval by a 22-8 vote. Labor party Ehud Barak and his party’s ministers, along with Likud ministers Benny Begin, Dan Meridor, and Michael Eitan, voted against the proposal.
The proposed law would require those seeking to become Israeli citizens under the Citizenship Law to sign an oath pledging loyalty to “the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.” The law will not impact foreign citizens who apply for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return, which grants citizenship to Jews and their descendents.
Israel Is Our Home party leader Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman pledged to voters two years ago he would introduce a loyalty oath.
The next step in the legislative process is a discussion at a Cabinet ministerial meeting and then a vote in the Knesset.
The Cabinet rejected two amendments, one by Barak, who wanted the loyalty oath to include a reference to the country’s Declaration of Independence, which places Arabs and Israel on an equal footing. The other amendment, proposed by Justice Minister Yaakov Ne’eman, would have applied the bill to Jews as well as non-Jews.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet, "The State of Israel is the national state of the Jewish people and it is a democratic state for all its citizenship. Jews and non-Jews enjoy equality and full rights. Unfortunately, there are many today who tried to blur not only the unique connection of the Jewish people to its homeland, but also the connection of the Jewish people to its state….
"There is no other democracy in the Middle East. There is no other Jewish state in the world. The combination of these two lofty values expresses the foundation of our national life and anyone who would like to join us needs to recognize this."