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Plan to order Arab players to sing Israeli national anthem

    After a three-month recess, the Knesset began its winter session on Monday with a slew of nationalist legislation on its agenda.

    National Union Party MK Michael Ben-Ari has tabled a plan to require members of Israeli national sports teams to sing the national anthem and to sign a document recognising Israel as a Jewish state or face being banned.

    Arab players who represent Israel in football have traditionally remained silent but respectful during the Hatikva, which contains lyrics such as "As long as in the heart within, A Jewish soul still yearns."

    Other proposals for the current session from the right wing of the Knesset include a law that will shield settlement outposts built on private Palestinian land from eviction; another gives those who served in the IDF preference for public sector jobs.

    Avigdor Lieberman's party, Yisrael Beiteinu, is planning to table a law making a commitment to Israel and its Jewish character a condition for citizenship.

    The loyalty law is being tabled again

    Such proposals are more of a worry to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than his traditional political rivals. Still enjoying the popularity boost from the Shalit deal, Mr Netanyahu is the beneficiary of a dysfunctional opposition.

    The election of Shelly Yachimovich as Labour leader has created an alternative to the main opposition party, Kadima, whose plummeting ratings are stoking a growing feeling of rebellion against Tzipi Livni's leadership.

    Kadima is trying to unite the opposition against legislation based on the agenda of the summer's social protests, calling for a new state budget, with different social priorities. Ms Yachimovich, meanwhile, has made it clear that she plans to lead her own independent social agenda, and individual Knesset members are planning to table laws that will mandate the building of tens of thousands of affordable homes and subsidise childcare.

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