Oct 12

JERUSALEM — A left-leaning Israeli minister on Sunday warned of a “whiff of fascism” as the country’s right wing-led government appeared set to approve a bill requiring a loyalty oath from new citizens.

The cabinet was to vote on the bill to make all new citizens swear an oath of loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state,” legislation that has been slammed as inflammatory and racist by the country’s Arab minority.

“There is a whiff of fascism on the margins of Israeli society,” Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog of the left-leaning Labour party told army radio.

“The overall picture is very disturbing and threatens the democratic character of the state of Israel,” he said.

“There have been a tsunami of measures that limit rights… I see it in the halls of the Knesset (parliament), in the commissions and departments responsible for legislation. We will pay a heavy price for this.”

The loyalty oath bill has been strongly criticised within Israel’s Arab community, which makes up around 20 percent of the population, as targeting Palestinians looking to gain citizenship after marrying Israeli citizens.

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