Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a change in his controversial amendment to the Citizenship Act, so that the loyalty oath would also apply to Jews immigrating to Israel. On Monday, Netanyahu said that the pledge should be required of all new citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike. Israeli Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman had stated earlier that he wanted the requirment to apply to all new citizens. A change from last week’s cabinet decision, the amended oath now applies to all new citizens, whether Jewish or non-Jewish.
The original amendment, which stated that those seeking Israeli citizenship would be required to pledge their allegiance to a ‘Jewish and democratic Israel,’ instead of pledging to the ‘State of Israel,’ was denounced by Israeli officials as a step toward fascism. Palestinian leaders described the move as ‘racist’.
Reporting at the Israeli news site Ynet, Netanyahu said, “We expect anyone wishing to become an Israeli citizen to recognize Israel as the Jewish nation state and a democratic state. There is a broad consensus within the Israeli public as to the Jewish and democratic nature of the country.”
Netanyahu said that the State of Israel was not established as ‘just another state,’ and added, “it was founded as the sovereign state of the Jewish people in their historic homeland; and as a democratic nation, whose citizens, Jews and non-Jews, enjoy full civil equality. ‘
According to information given by Haaretz News, there is no Knesset majority for the bill because only 56 of the 120 MKs supported it. The Labor Party announced that it will oppose the revised bill. Also opposing it is the United Torah Judaism and other parties, including the right-wing National Union. Its passage will thus depend on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ability to strong-arm MKs who currently oppose switching their votes. The Justice Minister said that he will quit as minister if the bill does not pass.