Bill to declare Jerusalem 'capital of Jewish people' can't muster majority

Ben-Ari sets condition f

October 28, 2009 22:49
2 minute read.

A private member's bill proposed by MK Zevulun Orlev (The Jewish Home) that would have declared Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish people - not just the State of Israel - was withdrawn because of divisions within the Knesset's Likud-led coalition. Orlev was frustrated in his attempts to amend Basic Law: Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel to add that the city, the unification of which is not internationally recognized, as the capital of the entire Jewish people. The law, which was initially drafted under the administration of prime minister Ehud Olmert, won support from the Kadima-led government but was quashed this week after coalition partner Labor allegedly dug in its heels in opposition to the amendment. Orlev said that he was told that the Labor Party torpedoed the bill. The bill, as an amendment to a Basic Law, would have required 61 Knesset members voting yea - a majority that the government coalition cannot muster without the support of the Labor Party. Even if the right-wing National Union party were to line up behind the bill, the vote would prove too close for coalition comfort. In June 2008, the Knesset Plenum approved by a large majority the preliminary reading of the amendment, with 58 in favor and 12 opposing. At the time, the opposition to the bill included then-Meretz MK Avshalom Vilan, who described the legislation as "fiction and a farce." "Accepting a law establishing Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people means that people like Morris Talansky and the Brooklyn Hassidim become Israeli citizens," he said, adding that the bill would also add yet a further level of complication to any future negotiations involving the permanent status of Jerusalem. Labor would not admit Wednesday that future negotiations were the main concern in fighting the advancement of the bill. Instead, at least one senior Labor official wrote off his coalition partner's bill as "cheap demagoguery" - adding that while the party supported the importance of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people, the legislation was unnecessary. Orlev said that he was told that coalition leaders were trying to work out a deal regarding support for the bill, but in the meantime, Kadima MKs were positively gleeful at the latest coalition stumble. "Twice in the past 48 hours, the government has pulled a bill because it has not been able to ensure that it would pass," said MK Nachman Shai (Kadima). "Yesterday it was the Golan referendum, and today the Jerusalem amendment. In both cases, the government preferred to retreat before the differences of opinion within the coalition became clear."

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