Bennett initiative to block dividing Jerusalem heads to early vote

Critics of the bill in question say that such a law would be a major and irreversible stumbling bloc on the way to a peace agreement.

July 2, 2017 05:33
1 minute read.
Aerial view over Jerusalem's Tower of David.

Jerusalem aerial view David Citadel 370. (photo credit: Library of Congress)


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A bill that would make it practically impossible to divide Jerusalem is set to go to a vote in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday.

The proposal advocated by Bayit Yehudi chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett would require 80 lawmakers to approve any attempt to retreat from Israeli sovereignty in any part of the capital, blocking what is likely to be a key component of any final-status agreement with the Palestinians.

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Lawmakers from every party in the coalition signed the bill, which was submitted by Bayit Yehudi faction chairwoman Shuli Moalem-Refaeli.

Currently, a regular majority, meaning 61 MKs, is needed to divide Jerusalem.

The legislation’s explanatory portion points out that “Jerusalem is a city that has a special status and historic meaning for the Jewish people and is its eternal capital,” mentioning its 3,000-year history, since the days of King David.

However, the bill states that some are seeking to undermine what it calls a consensus over the city’s status as a basis for the Jewish state’s existence, and says the Knesset must take action to stop any harm to Jerusalem.

According to the explanatory portion, “this amendment has a security purpose as well, since the IDF’s withdrawal from Lebanon [in 2000] and the disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip [in 2005] proved that wherever Israel withdraws from, terrorist factors enter, threatening the security of citizens of Israel.”

When the legislation was proposed last month, opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) came out against it on social media.

“Bennett is destroying the chance for peace,” Herzog tweeted. “Whoever presents such baseless initiatives doesn’t really care about Jerusalem but only about destroying the diplomatic process and the chance of guaranteeing a Jewish and democratic Israel.”

Tweeting back, Bennett wrote: “The opposite is true, Herzog. The only way to real peace is to make clear from the start that Jerusalem is not a subject for negotiation. This is what the ‘United Jerusalem bill’ would do.”

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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