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CDU leader calls for German citizenship to be allowed 'only with recognition of Israel'

The Local Germany
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CDU leader calls for German citizenship to be allowed 'only with recognition of Israel'
Friedrich Merz, CDU Federal Chairman and Chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, speaks at the 75th Germany Day of the Young Union on Saturday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Moritz Frankenberg

The Christian Democratic (CDU) opposition leader Friedrich Merz has demanded that Germany's upcoming citizenship reforms should include a signed agreement acknowledging Israel's right to exist.

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In an interview with ZDF's "Berlin direkt" programme on Sunday evening, Merz proposed that citizenship should only be granted to immigrants who acknowledge Israel's right to exist.

He also stressed the importance of curbing the speed of the naturalisation process, saying, "We must put a halt to hasty naturalisation."

Merz suggested that one of the prerequisites for naturalisation should be a formal commitment from applicants to uphold Israel's security which, he argued, is a fundamental aspect of Germany's national interest.

"Those who are unwilling to make this commitment do not belong in Germany," he said. 

Germany politicians, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), have in recent days decried anti-Semitism they fear has been rising in Germany as a result of the current conflict in the Middle East.

READ ALSO: German Chancellor vows to tackle anti-Semitism

The reform of Germany's citizenship laws is one of the coalition government's flagship policies and will see immigrants being able to apply for a German passport after just five years instead of the current eight, as well as allowing people to hold multiple nationalities. 

The draft bill of the law was passed by the federal cabinet in August and is expected to go to the Bundestag for its first reading in the second week of November.

READ ALSO: INTERVIEW: 'Germany's dual citizenship law on track for April 2024'

The FDP - one of the three parties in Germany's coalition government - has also been pushing to make anti-Semitism an explicit exclusion criterion for naturalisations.

Currently, the draft law states that naturalisation is out of the question if the foreigner "shows by his or her behaviour that he or she does not accept the equal rights of men and women laid down in the Basic Law".

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These can include "anti-Semitic, racist, xenophobic or other inhumanely motivated actions incompatible with the human dignity guarantee of the Basic Law".

The CDU - the biggest opposition party in the Bundestag - has so far been critical of the German government's citizenship proposals and accused the coalition of trying to "sell off" the German passport and lower barriers to integration.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Could Germany's conservatives block dual citizenship?

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