Israel's Lieberman Wants Loyalty Oath

Saturday, 07 Feb 2009 05:39 PM

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Hard-line politician Avigdor Lieberman, who wants all Israeli citizens to take a mandatory loyalty oath to the Jewish state, is positioning himself as kingmaker leading up to Tuesday's national elections.

According to LATimes.com, Lieberman is attracting huge campaign crowds, which revel in chanting his slogan, "Without loyalty, there is no citizenship." Lieberman has benefited from the recent offensive in Gaza, which has helped fuel his rhetoric against Arabs.

The Associated Press reports that Liberman's Israel Is Our Home party has surged into third place in national polls, behind Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party and Tzipi Livni's Kadima party. No party is expected to win a majority, meaning the leading vote-getter will have to form a coalition government with other parties. As a result, Lieberman could play a crucial role in constructing the next government. That has some critics concerned.

"This is a person who brings out the darkest urges of part of the Israeli public," Shelly Yacimovich, a lawmaker from the left-leaning Labor Party, told the Times. "His slogan endangers democracy. He is the moral red line we must not cross."

Lieberman has attracted support from voters angry over scenes of pro-Hamas Arab citizens marching in anti-war rallies in Israel. He also wants to ban Arab parties whose leaders opposed the Gaza offensive, in addition to adding the loyalty oath.

There are about 1.4 million Arab citizens in Israel, out of a total population of 7 million. Twelve serve in the 120-seat parliament.

"We are under a coordinated attack of terror from within and from without," he said last week. "And the threats from within are even more dangerous."

Under Lieberman's loyalty plan, any Israeli who refuses to take the oath would lose citizenship rights, voting rights, and the right to hold elective office.

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