Jerusalem (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered his justice minister to draft a bill that would apply a new loyalty oath approved by the Cabinet last week to Jewish immigrants as well as non-Jews seeking citizenship, his office said Monday.
The amendment to Israel's citizenship law was initially approved October 10 and would require new citizens to declare their loyalty to a "Jewish and democratic state." But it caused an outcry because it applied only to non-Jews seeking citizenship.
At last week's Cabinet meeting, Israeli Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman proposed applying the oath to non-Jews and to immigrants coming to Israel under what is called the "Law of Return." The "Law of Return" allows converted Jews and people with Jewish ancestry the right to settle in Israel and acquire citizenship.
The Cabinet approved the language that applied only to non-Jews, however, by a 22-8 vote.
A spokesman for Netanyahu said the outcry against the oath did not influence the prime minister's decision. Netanyahu, the spokesman said, supported Neeman's proposal, but Israel's right-wing coalition government was divided over it. A statement released after last week's Cabinet meeting said Neeman's proposal "would be discussed by the Cabinet at a future date."
The new language would have to go back to the Cabinet for approval before it could be sent to the Knesset, Israel's parliament. The Knesset must approve either legislation before it can become law.
Arab Israelis and opposition parties, while complaining about the exclusion of Jewish immigrants from the original law, weren't happy with the change in the oath at all.
Arab Knesset member Ahmed Tibi, chairman of the Ra'am-Ta'al party, told Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper that "the idea in its original form is bad."
"There is no place for this version, not for Jews or for Arabs, unless someone feels the need to give in to [Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman's whims or to battle his fascism," said Tibi. "Forcing a principal ethical identity on Jews and Arabs as one is completely unnecessary. It is redundant and is an attempt to enforce an ideology which Jews and Arabs need to adamantly oppose."
Minister of Minority Affairs Avishay Braverman of the Labor Party told Israeli news website Ynet that the change ordered by Netanyahu will make little difference in the damage the law, if approved, will have.
"The amendment requiring Jews who return to Israel to pledge their allegiance to a Jewish and democratic state will not remedy the damage to Israel's international image, and will not repair the damage to Jewish-Arab relations," he said.
Israel is home to roughly 6 million Jewish citizens and 1.5 million Arab citizens.
Netanyahu cited the nation's Declaration of Independence, which says Israel is both the "national state of the Jewish people" and a democratic state "in which all its citizens -- Jewish and non-Jewish -- enjoy fully equal rights."
"Democracy is the soul of Israel and we cannot do without it," Netanyahu said, according to a statement from his media adviser after the Cabinet vote last week.
CNN's Kevin Flower contributed to this report.