PLC law makes J'lem concessions illegal

Law states city is Palestinian, Arab, Islamic city, forbids talks about any part of capital.

haniyeh plc 224 (photo credit: AP [file])
haniyeh plc 224
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council is pushing through a bill that would make it illegal to make any concessions on Jerusalem. The bill, which passed its first reading on Thursday, also defines such concessions as a crime of high treason. Presented by Hamas legislator Ahmed Abu Halbiyeh on behalf of two parliamentary committees - the judicial committee and the committee for Jerusalem affairs - the bill is expected to pass in second and third readings in the coming days. The PLC session was boycotted by many members of the rival Fatah faction in protest of Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip last June. However, many Fatah legislators have made it known that they too support the law, which states that Jerusalem is a Palestinian, Arab and Islamic city and that it is totally forbidden to give up or conduct negotiations about any part of the city. According to the proposed law, anyone who violates these prohibitions would be prosecuted as a traitor. The bill still requires the approval of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said Ahmed Bahar, acting speaker of the PLC. He said the law would be presented to Abbas after it passed second and third readings. The law is intended to embarrass Abbas and ties his hands on the eve of the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on core issues, including the future status of Jerusalem. Hamas officials said Abbas would have no other option but to endorse the law. Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a top aide to Abbas, said in response that, as far as the PA was concerned, Jerusalem was a "red line" that cannot be crossed. Abbas told supporters in Ramallah Thursday that he did not go to Annapolis to make concessions. "There are some people who are trying to distort the truth," he said. "They are saying that we went to Annapolis to sell our cause, negotiate and sign agreements. But we went there to convey our principle and fixed positions." Abbas said the Palestinian delegation to Annapolis faced many "obstacles." These included demands to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and to relinquish the rights of the Palestinian refugees, he added. Abbas also revealed that he and his team rejected the idea of establishing a Palestinian state with temporary borders for fear that the borders would one day become permanent. "The Palestinian people want a state in the 1967 borders, including Jerusalem," he stressed. "We also want a solution to the problem of the refugees in accordance with the Arab peace initiative and United Nations resolution 194." Abbas reiterated his readiness to talk to Hamas, but only after the Islamist movement relinquishes control over the Gaza Strip. "What Hamas did [in the Gaza Strip] was a disaster for the Palestinians," he said. "This was an evil coup that was carried out by the prime minister and interior minister in the deposed [Hamas] government. But we are not opposed to dialogue with Hamas. Hamas is an integral part of the Palestinian people."