Knesset gives initial support for bill preventing division of Jerusalem

Israeli lawmakers gave the initial nod to a law ensuring that Jerusalem remains the Jewish state’s undivided capital. 

A bill that requires a special two-thirds Knesset super majority on any decision to divide Jerusalem passed its first reading in the plenum on Wednesday. A majority of 51 Members of Knesset voted in favor of the legislation, while 42 voted against it.

The Knesset’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation unanimously approved the bill earlier this month.

The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee will now prepare the bill for its second and third readings.

The bill, submitted by MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli and a group of other MKs, would require 80 of the Knesset’s 120 lawmakers to approve any attempt to cede Israeli sovereignty in any part of the capital.

Usually, a regular majority of 61 MKs is required in any Knesset vote.

During a stormy debate that preceded the vote, Moalem-Refaeli said that “this bill was designed to protect the unity of Jerusalem in the face of delusional, messianic steps from the left side of the [political] map.” The bill, she stated, prevents “the possibility of concessions in Jerusalem, even parts [of the city]. Jerusalem will not be on the negotiating table.”

The bill also allows for Jerusalem’s municipal lines to be redrawn in such a way that areas of the city would remain under Israeli sovereignty but would no longer be part of the capital. The areas in question are mostly Arab neighborhoods. In the event that a government chooses to concede those areas, it would only be subject to a national referendum as is the case for any sovereign Israeli territory, but would not require the two-thirds Knesset vote that is unique for partitioning Jerusalem.

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Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin said during the debate that he did not understand those who oppose the bill, which he said “is aimed at strengthening Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital and mak[ing] things difficult for any government that will want to divide it.”

By: World Israel News Staff