Bennett wants to make it much harder to divide Jerusalem
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Bennett wants to make it much harder to divide Jerusalem

Education minister reportedly seeks to require a two-thirds Knesset majority to hand over parts of the capital under a peace deal

Jewish Home party leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaks in response to the UN vote against Israeli settlements, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, on December 25, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Jewish Home party leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaks in response to the UN vote against Israeli settlements, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, on December 25, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Education Minister Naftali Bennett is reportedly set to propose legislation that would require a special two-thirds Knesset majority on any decision to divide Jerusalem under a future peace deal with the Palestinians.

Bennett, who leads the pro-settlement Jewish Home party, wants to amend the Basic Law on Jerusalem so that votes to divide the city will require the approval of 80 MKs to pass, as opposed to a regular majority, Israel Hayom reported on Friday.

The proposal will come up for approval in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, presided over by Bennett’s fellow party member Justice Ministry Ayelet Shaked, within two weeks, the report said.

Currently the Jerusalem Law, passed in 1980 and amended in 2000, states that “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.”

A spokesman for the Jewish Home party was quoted as saying that the proposed legislation was intended to strengthen Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s position vis-a-vis the new administration of US President Donald Trump.

“Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish people,” Bennett told Israel Hayom. “I see the Trump era as an opportunity to strengthen Jerusalem so that it will never be possible to divide it again.”

Bennett said that he was concerned that a future temporary coalition may agree to divide the city, whose eastern neighborhoods, including the Old City, the Palestinians claim for their future capital.

“I am working to enact this law to prevent any situation in the future,” Bennett said, “where a fleeting consensus, such as the ones under [prime ministers] Ehud Olmert or Ehud Barak, will lead to the division of Jerusalem.”

Last month, hours before Trump arrived in Israel during his first major foray abroad as president, Netanyahu declared that Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem’s holy sites is not up for negotiation and said the city will always be Israel’s capital.

Trump has expressed his desire to reach a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement, which he has described as the “ultimate deal.”

In recent months the United Nations cultural body UNESCO has passed a series of resolutions that diminish or deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and refer to Israel as an occupying power.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, but the move has not been recognized internationally and most countries refuse to recognize any part of the city as Israel’s capital, saying it is an issue that will need to be decided in negotiations with the Palestinians.

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