Most right-wing lawmakers on Wednesday skipped a vote on a bill that would
require two-thirds of the Knesset’s approval before the government could
negotiate on Jerusalem’s status.
The bill, proposed by United Torah
Judaism MK Ya’acov Litzman, was voted down with 12 MKs in favor and 51
Litzman’s proposal would require 80 MKs to vote in favor of
negotiations to divide Jerusalem in order for them to proceed.
be that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will break the promise he made at this
stage, that Jerusalem is non-negotiable,” Litzman said.
Tzipi Livni said the government opposes the bill, calling it a “cynical use of
the most important place to every Jew, in order to embarrass the coalition.
Jerusalem is not just a capital and our connection to it is not just religious,
nor is it monopolized by one party.”
Livni also said peace talks will
come to an end if the bill passes, and that would be more harmful to Israel than
Litzman said he does not believe Livni is
representing the government, because “if Netanyahu agreed with that, he would be
the head of Meretz, not the Likud. That is not the Likud
“Unfortunately, those who call themselves a right-wing
government decided to give up on an opportunity to protect Jerusalem, the
eternal, united capital of the Jewish people,” Shas leader Arye Deri
The bill was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation
on Sunday, with the support of Likud Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi ministers, but
Hatnua and Yesh Atid ministers appealed the vote.
The parties supporting
the bill walked out on Wednesday, rather than vote against a measure to make it
more difficult to divide Jerusalem.
No Bayit Yehudi MKs were in the room,
though many, including party head Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, were spotted
in the adjacent cafeteria shortly before voting began.
sources said it was unfortunate Litzman didn’t coordinate with Bayit Yehudi,
because now the bill will be buried for months.
“The coalition opposed
the bill, but Bayit Yehudi and the Likud refused to vote against it. MK
Litzman harmed Jerusalem by bringing the bill to a vote, and he knows it,” a
Bayit Yehudi spokesman said.
Similarly, MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu)
said before the vote that he is concerned that if the bill does not pass, it
will look like the Knesset approved of dividing Jerusalem.
The only Likud
Beytenu lawmakers present for the vote were MK Moshe Feiglin, who voted in
favor, and Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan and Rivlin, who announced
they were not participating.
A senior Likud source said MKs were
preparing for the party’s convention Wednesday evening, but many were still in
the Knesset building at the time of the vote.
One Yesh Atid MK, Pnina
Tamnu-Shata, did not vote with the coalition, choosing instead to abstain, with
permission from party leader Yair Lapid.