German state requires citizenship applicants to declare support for Israel's 'right to exist'

German state requires citizenship applicants to declare support for Israel's 'right to exist'
The eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt has made it mandatory for citizenship applicants to express their support for Israel's right to exist, amid increasing pressure on Arabs and Muslims
2 min read
06 December, 2023
Germany has strongly supported Israel in its war on Gaza [Getty]

Anyone applying for German citizenship in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt must declare their support for Israel’s right to exist, according to a new decree from the state's Ministry of the Interior.

The directive, which was issued to districts and independent cities last month, claimed that Israel’s right to exist was a matter of great importance for Germany.

"Obtaining German citizenship requires a commitment to Israel’s right to exist," read the decree.

Citizenship applicants in Saxony-Anhalt must provide a written statement before their documents are finalised, and they must acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a state and condemn any opposition to this.

Minister of Interior for Saxony-Anhalt Tamara Zieschang said it was a way to indicate whether the applicant held any antisemitic views.

Accusations of antisemitism have often been used by Israel and its allies to shut down any criticism of Israeli policy or  Zionist ideology.

Arabs and Muslims have been under increasing pressure in Germany ever since Hamas's surprise attack on Israel last October, with clampdowns on pro-Palestinian protest and officials including President Frank-Walter Steinmeier saying that German Arabs must "distance themselves" from Hamas.

In response to the new policy, Marwa Fatafta, a policy advisor at Access Now wrote on X, "Germany doesn’t even recognise people like myself as Palestinian. 

"I am registered and I live in this country as a stateless person. There is nothing more dehumanising in this context than to ask Palestinians to recognise their occupier while their very existence is denied."

Lawyer Ahmed Abed said that the new Saxony-Anhalt directive may be illegal, according to Germany-based website The Local.

German Federal Interior Minister Nancy Fraeser, however, has said that recognising Israel's right to exist may become national law soon.

Israel is currently engaged in an indiscriminate air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip, killing more than 16,000 people – most of them women and children.