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EU Urges Equality in Israel

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, 10 Oct. 2010

The European Union has urged the Israeli government to guarantee the equality of all of its citizens.

The statement Tuesday comes a day after Palestinian officials rejected Israel's proposal to renew a settlement construction freeze in the West Bank on condition that they recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said that Israel and a future Palestinian state will need to provide equal rights for all of their citizens, whether Arab or Jewish.

On Sunday, the Israeli Cabinet approved a bill requiring non-Jews seeking to become citizens to pledge loyalty to Israel as a "Jewish and democratic" state. Arab lawmakers and others in Israel have strongly criticized the bill, which has yet to be approved by Israel's parliament.

Peace talks between Israel and Palestinians stalled since earlier this month. Palestinian officials say they will not resume talks until Israel halts settlement construction on land Palestinians want for a future state.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.