JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed an amendment to the Citizenship Act that would require prospective citizens to pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
"The State of Israel is the national state of the Jewish people. This principle guides government policy, both foreign and domestic, and is a foundation of Israeli law, Netanyahu said in a statement issued on Thursday.
"This principle finds expression in the phrase 'a Jewish and democratic state,' It is fitting that this principle should also appear in the loyalty oath taken by those seeking to become naturalized Israeli citizens.
"Israel is a democratic state that gives full civil equality to all its citizens. We uphold this in our foreign and domestic policy and in the peace negotiations," the statement read.
The amendment to the Citizenship Law will be submitted for cabinet approval on Sunday, October 10.
Not surprisingly, the left-wing Labor and Meretz parties and all three Arab parties denounced the amendment.
"This is an infuriating, irresponsible decision that will only fuel the fires of delegitimization against Israel worldwide," Minister of Minority Affairs Avishay Braverman (Labor) said.
"This decision will bear no benefits for Israel. All it does is send a negative message to its Arab citizens," Braverman said.
MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List - Ta'al) said "it is meant to cement the Arabs' inferior class status by law," while Hadash chairman Mohammad Barakeh accused Netanyahu of "racist legislation."
"We've long been saying that the Israeli law has become the guide to the world's most sinister regimes," Barakeh said.
MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad), who lost some of her parliamentary rights after joining pro-Palestinian activists on board the Turkish-owned flagship Mavi Marmara in May, called the proposed amendment "facist."
"The State of Israel has reached the height of facism," Zoabi said. "It's not surprising that this law is being promoted," she said.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio that behavior like Zoabi's testifies to the importance of amendment.