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Israeli bill aimed at preventing Jerusalem's division passes reading in Knesset

July 19, 2017 6:42 P.M. (Updated: July 20, 2017 4:18 P.M.)
A general view of Jerusalem's Old City is seen on April 14, 2014. (AFP/Thomas Coex/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A bill aimed at preventing any future divisions of Jerusalem, by requiring a two-third majority in Israel’s parliament in order to do so, passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset on Wednesday.

The bill, titled "Basic Law: Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel," passed with 58 Members of Knesset (MKs) voting in favor, 48 voting against it, and one MK abstaining from the vote, according to a statement released by the Knesset.

The bill aims to mend Israel’s Basic Law on Jerusalem to necessitate the approval of 80 of the 120 Knesset members to make any changes to the law, instead of the regular majority vote.

According to the statement, the proposal explains that the bill has a “security purpose.”

“Since the IDF’s withdrawal from Lebanon [in 2000] and the disengagement from the Gaza Strip [in 2005] proved that wherever Israel withdraws from, terrorist factors enter, threatening the security of citizens of Israel,” the bill reportedly states, insinuating that if Israel withdrew from occupied East Jerusalem, it would be taken over by “terrorist” factions.

MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli from the ultra right Jewish Home party, who had submitted the bill along with a group of other MKs, said that the bill was meant “to protect Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Israeli People.”

“The State of Israel will not allow the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Get it into your heads that Jerusalem will remain the capital of the Jewish People for eternity; 3,000 years after King David established Jerusalem as the capital of the [Jewish] People, we returned to it,” she added.

The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the "Judaization" of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.

Right-wing Israeli leaders routinely claim that Jerusalem is the "eternal capital" of Israel. However, this claim is not supported by the international community, which still largely considers occupied East Jerusalem to be an integral part of a future Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, MK Tzipi Livni from the centrist Zionist Camp noted that East Jerusalem includes “villages with hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Police do not enter them, and neither does the education minister,” referring to right-wing MK Naftali Bennett who initially proposed the bill in June.

Livni also added that the bill would “prevent us from separating from the Palestinians.”

Bennett had said in June that the purpose of proposing the law was to “unify Jerusalem forever,” by making it “impossible" to divide Jerusalem.

While the PA and the international community do not recognize the legality of the occupation of East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank since 1967, many Palestinians consider that all historic Palestine has been occupied since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

Meanwhile, a growing number of activists have criticized a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace given the existing political context, proposing instead a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.
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