JERUSALEM – Israel’s Cabinet approved a bill on Sunday that would require new non-Jewish citizens to pledge a loyalty oath to a “Jewish and democratic” state, language that triggered charges of racism from Arab lawmakers who see it as undermining the rights of the country’s Arab minority.
The measure was largely symbolic, since few non-Jews apply for Israeli citizenship. Nevertheless, it infuriated the Arab minority and stoked tensions with Palestinians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the bill reflected the essence of Israel at a time when he said many in the world are trying to blur the connection between the Jewish people and their homeland.
Ahmad Tibi, an Arab lawmaker, called the move a provocation.
“Its purpose is to solidify the inferior status of Arabs by law,” he said. “Netanyahu and his government are limiting the sphere of democracy in Israel and deepening the prejudice against its Arab minority.”
Anti-gay rioters, Serb police clash
BELGRADE, Serbia – Serbian riot police fought running battles Sunday with thousands of far-right supporters who hurled Molotov cocktails and stun grenades to try disrupt a gay pride march in downtown Belgrade. More than 140 people were hurt and more than 200 were arrested, officials said.
Thousands of police officers sealed off the streets in the capital where the march took place, repeatedly clashing at several locations with rioters who tried to burst through cordons.
Protesters chanting “death to homosexuals!” hurled bricks, stones, glass bottles and stun grenades at riot police. Police responded by firing tear gas and deploying armored vehicles to disperse the protesters, who remained in the heart of the capital even after the brief pride march ended.
Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said police estimated that 6,000 rioters faced 5,600 policemen.