Knesset candidate wants to stem exodus of Christian Zionists

Monday, February 02, 2009 |  Nicole Jansezian

Danny Ayalon, former Israeli ambassador to the US and now running for the Israeli parliament on the Israel Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) ticket, said he does not agree with the harsh policies against Christian volunteers living in the Holy Land.

"We should be more open to our Christian brothers,” Ayalon told Israel Today. "Israel Beiteinu will push for making relations between Christians and Jews and Israelis much closer, much stronger."

Many Christian volunteers are now subject to tighter visa rules, and many have been told to leave the country with just two-weeks notice. The sudden enforcement of an old rule on the books has slashed the staffs at Christian outreaches in Israel by up to 50 percent over the past six months.

Ayalon said Israel should recognize Christian Zionists as some of the best friends of the Jewish state.

Israel Beiteinu stands to pick up several seats in the upcoming elections. The right-wing party has gained momentum with the addition of well known politicians like Ayalon and conservative Uzi Landau, who defected from Likud.

"I want to zero in on what distinguishes us from the other parties and why we are becoming so popular," Ayalon said at a debate on Sunday with members of the four top parties. "We believe Israel should be a normal country. (We want to) resume normalcy... and become a country like every other country."

"Normalcy" would require a loyalty test to the State of Israel as a Jewish state.

Ever since party leader Avigdor Lieberman proposed a "loyalty test" for citizens - presuming many Israeli Arabs and Arabs who don’t have citizenship in Israel would not side with the Jewish state - the party has been labeled as racist.

Ayalon, however, compared the situation in Israel to Spain, where the high court ruled that parties opposed to Spain itself could not run in national elections.

"We want the same yardstick here," Ayalon said referring to the Arab parties who are represented in the Knesset yet oppose Israel and work with the Palestinian regime.

Israeli elections are scheduled to take place on February 10.

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