Jack Khoury
October 7, 2010 - 12:00am

The Israeli Arab sector responded furiously Wednesday when it learned that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to bring to cabinet vote an amendment to the Citizenship Law requiring anyone applying for citizenship to declare loyalty to Israel as a "Jewish and democratic" state.

Israeli Arabs, who already have citizenship, would not be required to sign a loyalty, but it raised furor in their communities nonetheless. The amendment was proposed by Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman and has already been adopted by Netanyahu.

The Arab Higher Monitoring Committee is preparing a position paper on the matter and intends to send a letter to the Middle East quartet – which comprises the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States – demanding it condemn the action.

The protest letter will also be send to the Arab League and to the Palestinian Authority.

This committee is sending this letter to all parties involved in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to make clear its position that such an amendment could have negative implications on the status of Arabs in Israel and should not be ignored.

Balad party leader MK Jamal Zahalka, who helped draft the position paper and letter, told Haaretz that no time should be wasted in bringing the matter to the attention of the international community.

"The sole purpose of this law is to target Israeli Arabs and proves that [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman has become the spiritual father of the government," Zahalka said, referring to the right-wing minister's fierce advocacy of the amendment.

"The racism in Israel has set itself as a precedent in the international arena," Zahalka said, adding that no other country in the world would demand its citizens to declare ideological loyalty.

"The word democratic should be erased from the proposal because it is impossible to call this state democratic in such an anti-democratic proposal. The correct definition is a Jewish state, and not a democratic one," he said.

Chairman of the Hadash party, MK Mohammed Barakeh, lambasted Netanyahu for "kicking of the season of racist legislation that he is leading himself."

"The addition to the Citizenship Law is entirely racist and transparent, and will clearly find the majority needed with the help of Lieberman and [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak," he said. "The book of laws in Israel has long turned into a guidebook for the most discriminatory and racist regime in the world and in history."


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