Ministers reject ‘Loyalty Oath’ bill
Comment by Ted Belman
This legislation seems emminently reasonable to me. Citizenship comes with obligations. Free speech is limited in many ways. Advocating the end of Israel as a Jewish state should be one of them.
The ministerial committee on legislation voted down a controversial, Israel Beiteinu-sponsored bill on Sunday that would have required a loyalty oath and service to the state for citizenship.
Likud, Labor, Shas and Habayit Hayehudi ministers voted against the bill, while Israel Beiteinu supported it.
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov of Israel Beiteinu on Sunday blasted the rejection of the bill.
“Instead of fixing the problem and solving the absurd situation whereby people who assist terror attacks targeting Israel continue to receive welfare payments and salaries from the state, the government has decided to continue to bury its head in the sand,” he said. “In the Knesset, Israel Beiteinu will continue its efforts to remove funding for terrorists.”
The ministerial committee on legislation was also expected to vote down a bill presented by Habayit Hayehudi MK Zevulun Orlev that seeks to criminalize those who “incite against or attempt to undermine” – in Orlev’s words – the Jewish and democratic nature of the State of Israel.
Shas opposed the loyalty oath bill, because it would have required haredim to serve in the IDF or in alternative service to the state, but supports the other bill.
According to the loyalty oath bill, anyone seeking citizenship, including people moving to Israel and 16-year-olds obtaining their first identity cards, would have had to make the following vow: “I pledge to be loyal to the State of Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state, to its symbols and values, and to serve the state in any way asked of me in military service as required by law.”
The bill, which was initiated by Knesset Law Committee chairman David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu), would also empower the interior minister to cancel the citizenship of Israelis who do not fulfill their compulsory military or alternative national service.
Israel Beiteinu officials said the legislation was important due to the anti-Israel behavior of Israeli Arabs during the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead. But they stressed that the bill would apply to all citizens and was not intended to single out Arabs.
“The bill is important because we want everyone to be required to serve and do their part to help the country, as well as identifying with the country and its symbols,” an Israel Beiteinu spokesman said.
The full cabinet had been expected to vote on another Israel Beiteinu bill that would make it illegal to mark Independence Day as a day of mourning. The legislation would outlaw ceremonies for what Arabs call the Nakba (catastrophe). It passed in the ministerial committee on legislation last week and was appealed by Labor and Likud ministers who oppose it. Israel Beiteinu lawmakers delayed the vote to make changes that they believed would help it pass.
Arab MKs expressed outrage that the bills were even being considered by the government. They warned that if either of them became law, a “civil rebellion” of Arab citizens would break out.
“We are ready to go to jail,” Balad MK Jamal Zahalka said.
Labor rebel MK Ophir Paz-Pines called on Labor ministers to tell Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that they would quit the coalition if the bills passed.
“These are dangerous bills that would be a mark of Cain on the forehead of the state and would make Israel a racist state,” Paz-Pines said.