A law that would require the support of a two-thirds majority of Knesset members for negotiations with Palestinians over the partition of Jerusalem was defeated in its preliminary reading Wednesday.
Only 12 MKs supported the bill, while 51 opposed it. One abstained and two parliamentarians protested by refusing to participate.
The bill called for a supermajority of 80 Knesset members voting in favor of allowing the government to be allowed to put the division of Jerusalem on the negotiating table.
“This proposal aims to prevent the possibility that, during any stage of a political process, there will be a debate over the status of Jerusalem, the joy of the Jewish people’s eyes,” the bill’s explanatory supplement read.
The bill’s sponsor, United Torah Judaism’s Yaakov Litzman, had expressed confidence that the Jewish Home party, a coalition faction, would support the measure, despite the fact that it would tie the hands of the government in negotiations with the Palestinians. However, no Jewish Home MKs were present during the preliminary reading.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel’s point person in talks with the PA, called the proposal “a cynical attempt to use the most important place for every Jew in the world in order to embarrass the coalition.”
“Jerusalem is not only the capital, and the connection with it is not only with the religious, and the monopoly on the link to it does not sit in the hands of any party,” Livni said, referring to bill sponsor Litzman’s party, a Haredi political faction, and criticizing the religious overtones in the bill’s explanatory text.
Livni also stressed the importance of the peace talks. “Most Israeli citizens want the state to negotiate [with the Palestinians],” she said.