Jerusalem: Israel’s Cabinet has approved a bill that would require new citizens to pledge a loyalty oath to a “Jewish and democratic” state. The language has triggered charges of racism from Arab lawmakers who see it as undermining the rights of the country’s Arab minority.
It has also stoked tensions with Palestinians at a time when fledgling peace talks are deadlocked over Israel’s refusal to extend a moratorium on new building in West Bank Jewish settlements.
The bill is backed by Yisrael Beitenu, a hard-line nationalist party whose leader, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, has been a vocal critic of Israel’s settlement slowdown.
Sunday’s vote may be a way to soften Lieberman’s opposition to extending the slowdown, though officials have denied there is any connection.