Israeli FM brings 'loyalty' bill before cabinet

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will bring his long touted and very controversial national loyalty bill for a cabinet vote next week in hopes of having it eventually turned into law.

In its current form, the bill would require all Israeli citizens to publicly declare loyalty to “the state of Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state,” and to either perform military or other national service. The penalty for failing to meet those requirements would be the loss of citizenship.

Lieberman has been branded a “racist” by Israeli Arabs and left-wing Jews, as well as by much of the world media because of the bill. However, Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party colleagues note that the bill does not specifically target Israel’s Arab citizens, and that it is just as much about weeding out anti-Zionist Jews.

While the bill might pass its cabinet vote, it is not expected to have enough support in the Knesset to pass the necessary three votes to become law.

In related news, Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday approved a proposal to make it illegal to mark Israel’s Independence Day as a catastrophe, as many of Israel’s Arab citizens currently do.

Many Israeli Arabs refer to the day as “the Nakba,” or catastrophe, and while their Jewish countrymen are enjoying barbecues and celebrating, the Arabs dress in black and hold solemn and mournful marches, some of which turn into riots.

The proposal will now go before the cabinet and, if again approved, will move to the Knesset plenum for a series of three votes before becoming law.

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