Proposed Loyalty Oath Adds To Nationality Bill Uproar

YERUSHALAYIM -
Former President of Israel, Shimon Peres, in a speech earlier this month. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Former President of Israel, Shimon Peres, in a speech earlier this month. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The uproar over Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s nationality bill was raised a few more decibels on Thursday as a prominent Likud politician proposed that newly elected Knesset members take an oath of loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state.

MK Miri Regev is set to introduce a revision to the current loyalty oath at the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday.

Members of Knesset will have to pledge to “faithfully serve the state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and to follow the laws of the state.” Until now, the formula was: to “uphold the principles of the state of Israel and to faithfully fulfill their mission in the Knesset.”

“An oath of allegiance in this formulation will require an MK to have a stronger connection to Israel and to being a citizen like any other citizen of Israel, who has rights and obligations towards the state, its existence and security,” said Regev.

Although Regev did not name names, it was understood that the revised formula is aimed at Arab politicians, such as Hanin Zoabi, who openly identify with and justify enemies of the state. Zoabi, who has been formally disciplined by the Knesset, avoided criminal prosecution for incitement recently, chiefly because she did not directly advocate violence.

On another front, former president of Israel, Shimon Peres, spoke out against Netanyahu’s nationality bill.

Like other critics of the bill, Peres argued that insertion of clauses into the Basic Law about the Jewish character of the state and its symbols was unnecessary and dangerous.

He characterized it as an attempt to “subjugate the Declaration of Independence to fleeting political needs,” a reference to Netanyahu’s alleged motivation — to appease right-wing members of his coalition.

“The nation-state bill could rattle the nation and destroy Israel’s democratic status at home and abroad,” Peres warned.