Not devoid legal merit. Netanyahu
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Legalists: PM's proposal has legal merit

Senior law professors from top Israeli universities say that while Netanyahu's pledge of allegiance amendment to Citizenship Act is controversial, complex, there is nothing legally wrong with it

Does Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act have legal legs to stand on? Legal experts told Ynet Wednesday that while the matter was highly complex, and the current amendment draft did pose some question, it was not devoid legal merit.


"I'm not sure this is the smartest amendment, it's redundant and it will only alienate people, but there is no legal reason to dismiss it," Prof. Barak Medina, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said.


The amendment itself does not bear any falsities, he added, "And it is legitimate for a nation to demand a pelage of allegiance to be included in a citizenship petition, when the characteristics in question have been defined as its core characteristics," he added.


Medina stressed that while he himself did not agree with the amendment, the claim made by Arab parties that it was discriminating against Arab citizens was not necessarily true, especially when such a pledge of allegiance has no practical meaning.


Earlier Wednesday, Netanyahu announced he will ask his ministers to green light a Citizenship Act amendment, requiring all aspiring citizens to pledge their allegiance not only to Israel, but to a "Jewish and democratic" Israel.


The decision evoked a slew of reactions from all sides of the political spectrum, with the Right welcoming it and the Left and the Arab parties deeming it as harmful and racist. 


Prof. Ariel Bendor of the Bar Ilan University School of Law stressed both the complexity and the delicacy of the issue: "Obviously the State does not owe non-citizens what it owes citizens in terms of rights and freedoms," he said, adding that the legal ambiguity of the matter may mean the High Court of Justice would have to weigh in on it.


Professor Yedidya Stern of the Center for Democratic Studies, who also serves as president of the Israeli Democratic Institute, told Ynet that in his opinion, "Israel shouldn’t be ashamed in the definition of 'Jewish and democratic,' which exists in its Basic Laws.


"I do however believe that this definition cannot be used to test the citizenship of those already defined as such," he said. 


"This amendment," he added, "explores the question of whether a potential citizen can become one without pledging loyalty to the country. The common Western answer is that it is acceptable to demand a pledge of allegiance from new citizens. However, in order to prevent the demand form being racist, the pledge should be demanded of everyone seeking citizenship, including Jews.


"There is no legislative problem with the amendment, as long as it is equally applied," concluded Stern, adding that in its current draft, he himself was opposed to it.





פרסום ראשון: 10.07.10, 00:50
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