Knesset passes Jerusalem, primaries and KKL-JNF bills overnight

Meretz MK Mossy Raz said the Jerusalem bill was dangerous because it would make it much harder to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

January 2, 2018 09:06
1 minute read.
The Knesset building

The Knesset building. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The Knesset passed three controversial bills into law overnight, between Monday and Tuesday Israel time, that would require a special majority of 80 MKs to relinquish any part of Jerusalem, fund primary campaigns and make the Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel-Jewish National Fund pay the state a large sum.

The Jerusalem Law, an amendment to Basic Law: Jerusalem, would raise the number of MKs needed to give up Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem to 80 MKs, two-thirds of the Knesset.

However, it does not preclude the government from making predominately Arab areas of Jerusalem into a new municipality and giving them up in negotiations. Still, doing so would be subject to a referendum, in accordance with a different Basic Law.

Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett pushed the bill, which was submitted by MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli of his party. It passed by a vote of 64 to 51 with one abstention.

Meretz MK Mossy Raz said the bill was dangerous because it would make it much harder to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

"Jerusalem is the two cities in the world I love the most," Raz said. "[The Palestinians] are not foreigners."

The Primaries Law, sponsored by coalition chairman David Amsalem (Likud), would allow funding for primary candidates if three conditions are met: the party has at least 5,000 members; its party list is mostly democratically elected; and the primaries take place in the six-month period before a Knesset election.

The candidates would receive funding for all their campaign expenses but would not be allowed to otherwise raise funds. Until now, parties received taxpayer funds for national elections. But candidates funded their races in party primaries on their own, taking donations from contributors in Israel and around the world.

The bill passed by a 62 to 52 vote. Amsalem said it was a good law that would separate politicians from tycoons and prevent them from making mistakes.

Zionist Union MK Miki Rosenthal said he would receive to take taxpayer funds for his campaign.

The KKL-JNF law requires the organization to pay the state NIS 1.8 billion for infrastructure projects over the next three years, including a billion the first year.

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