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Middle East

PM: Jews should take loyalty oath

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to extend a loyalty oath for candidates for Israeli citizenship to include Jews as well as non-Jews, his office said yesterday.

The original amendment, which required only non-Jews to take a loyalty oath to the "Jewish and democratic state of Israel", was denounced as racist by Israeli Arab law makers after it was approved by Mr Netanyahu's government last week.

The Israeli parliament must ratify the amendment before it becomes law. Thousands of Jews and Arabs demonstrated on Saturday in Tel Aviv against the proposal, saying it went against democratic principles. Under Israel's current immigration laws, Jews are granted automatic citizenship and non-Jews have to pledge loyalty to the State of Israel.

The law will have no bearing on the citizenship of Israel's Arab minority, who make up 20 per cent of the population.