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Ministers Push Bill that could Stop Jerusalem Withdrawal | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Israeli border police officers walks in front of the Dome of the Rock AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS

Tel Aviv – The Ministerial Committee for Legislation of Israeli government approved an amendment to an existing Basic Law which stipulates that transfer of sovereign control of any part of the city, including as part of an Israel-Palestinian peace deal requires approval of a majority of at least 80 out of 120 Knesset members.

The bill, advanced by Jewish Home party, conditions that approval fully two-thirds of the Knesset for withdrawing from Jerusalem.

The quick presentation and approval-vote of the bill suggest disagreements between the parties of the coalition for political motives and electoral reasons.

Meanwhile, tensions and hostilities were still ongoing in the al-Aqsa Mosque which was closed following an armed clash which led to the death of three young men from Umm al-Fahm and two Israeli policemen.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett presented the “Basic Law: Jerusalem the Capital of Israel” stymieing withdrawal from East Jerusalem and disrupting the peace process based on a two-states solution.

“We will prevent a situation like in 2000 when Ehud Barak wanted to hand over the Temple Mount and three-quarters of the Old City, the Mount of Olives and the City of David, to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at the Camp David talks,” Bennett stated.

Bennett prepared the bill along with Likud’s Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin.

Bennett considers that the law will prevent relinquishing any part of the city and will also prevent its division following a public referendum which might result in people’s approval on a political settlement.

The voting on the bill was done following an agreement between Likud and Jewish Home after Knesset member Moshe Gafni of Yahadut HaTorah party suggested discussions be done in a private session with the participation of the parties of the coalition.

In 2007, then-Likud faction head and former Minister Gideon Saar first proposed this idea. He explained that it was necessary upon the Knesset to protect Jerusalem and its “special meaning to the Jewish people.”

His proposal was approved by several Likud members and even Benjamin Netanyahu but was ultimately buried, until its revival in late 2013.

The bill will be presented later under the name of the government thus obliging the major coalition to vote for it.

Israeli political sources believe that such a bill will cause tensions with the US administration and President Donald Trump who is trying to achieve progress in the Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Basic Law will make the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on Jerusalem useless.