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Israel loyalty oath bill stirs Arab-Israeli unease

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Bigger plans?

Though Netanyahu demurred, he did say that significance of the revised loyalty oath is part of something bigger

"There is a very great struggle today to nullify and blur the character of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and to say that it doesn't belong to the Jewish people on a national basis," said Netanyahu. "I think that the struggle on this issue, both on an international and a domestic level, is a necessary struggle."

Ever since Netanyahu first threw his support behind creating a Palestinian state in 2009, Israel has pursued a demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a state of the Jewish people as part of the negotiations. The Palestinians have resisted, arguing that the issue is solely a domestic one.

The amendment was made public at a sensitive diplomatic juncture. On Friday and Saturday, the Arab League is expected to issue a statement regarding the future of Palestinian participation in the peace talks after Israel ended a moratorium on settlement building. There have been intensified diplomatic contacts over the last two weeks to avoid a breakdown of the talks.

"There are direct talks with the Palestinians and they are refusing to recognizing Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, in contrast to the UN in 1948," says Tal Nahum, the spokesman for Foreign Minister Lieberman's political party, Yisrael Beiteinu. "It's very important for us that the rest of the world will recognize Israel as a Jewish state … This is what this amendment is for."

Are Israel's Jewish and democratic identities in conflict?

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