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Israeli FM's Party Proposes Loyalty Oath to 'Jewish' State  


An Israeli ultra-nationalist party led by the country's foreign minister has drafted a law that would require citizens to pledge loyalty to Israel as a "Jewish, Zionist and democratic" state.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman promoted the idea of a loyalty law in his campaign for parliamentary elections earlier this year.

His Yisrael Beitenu Party grew into the third largest in parliament after winning votes from Israeli Jews who perceive the country's Arab citizens to be disloyal. Israeli Arabs make up about one-fifth of the population.

Lieberman's party drafted another bill on Sunday that would ban Israeli Arabs from holding annual commemorations of what they call the "catastrophe" (or "Naqba" in Arabic) marking Israel's creation.

The proposals have drawn strong criticism from some opposition lawmakers and rights groups who call them a violation of democratic rights.

Yisrael Beitenu says it will seek Cabinet approval for the loyalty bill on Sunday before presenting it to parliament, where it would have to pass several votes before becoming law.

The legislation would require all Israelis to swear allegiance to a "Jewish, Zionist and democratic" Israel in order to receive an identity card. It also would give authorities the power to revoke the citizenship of people who refuse to serve in the military or perform a national service.

The proposed ban on commemorating the "Naqba" calls for a three-year prison sentence for violators. The measure also must be approved by lawmakers in several votes.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.


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