Israeli legislature passes law making it harder to cede parts of Jerusalem to Palestine

By Allen Cone  |  Jan. 2, 2018 at 3:46 PM
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Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Israel's Knesset legislature approved legislation Tuesday that makes it harder to cede parts of Jerusalem to a future Palestinian state.

During an all-night session in Jerusalem, the legislators approved a bill that requires two-thirds approval instead of a simple majority on changes involving the city. In the second and third reading, the parliament passed by a 64-51 margin with one abstention.

Israel has claimed all of Jerusalem as its capital but Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump recognized the city as Israel's capital and said he would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said the parliament's action and Trump's policy change amount to a declaration of war against his people.

"This vote clearly indicates that Israel has officially declared the end of the so-called political process and has already begun to impose dictating and de facto policies," said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, according to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency. "There is no legitimacy to the Trump decision, and there is no legitimacy to all the decisions of the Israeli Knesset. We will not allow in any way to allow such plans that are dangerous for the future of the region and the world to pass."

The bill amended the Basic Law on Jerusalem that was initially passed in 1980 and previously said "no authority that is stipulated in the law of the State of Israel or of the Jerusalem Municipality may be transferred either permanently or for an allotted period of time to a foreign body, whether political, governmental or to any other similar type of foreign body."

The amendment also authorizes the Knesset to remove certain areas of the city with a simple-majority vote -- as long as the remain under Israeli control following any transfer.

Although Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, the move has not been recognized internationally, including by the United Nations. The U.N. General Assembly last month condemned Trump's decision.

Jewish Home Minister Shuli Moalem-Refaeli proposed the legislation approved this week.

"The goal of the bill is to prevent concessions as part of diplomatic deals," said Moalem-Refaeli said later summer when the legislation was initially proposed. "Jerusalem will never be on the negotiating table.

"The State of Israel will not allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem. Get it into your heads that Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish people and will remain the capital of the Jewish people for all eternity," she said.

But opposition lawmaker Nahman Shai, of the Zionist Union, said the new law could lead to further unrest.

"We don't need new laws on Jerusalem now, we have already seen what happens on the Temple Mount," he said.

He was referring to violence last summer, when Israel tried to impose new security procedures at the Muslim mosque in Jerusalem after three Palestinians killed two Israeli police officers.

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