MK to push bill letting Knesset nix talks on Jerusalem, refugees

MK to push bill letting Knesset nix talks on Jerusalem, refugees

In unlikely event Miri Regev's proposal becomes law, PM would need support of lawmakers to put core issues on the table

A Muslim woman at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
A Muslim woman at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A Likud MK plans to sponsor a bill that would forbid the prime minister from negotiating with the Palestinians on the issues of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees without prior consent from the Knesset.

The bill would force the prime minister to seek parliamentary approval to even bring up the subjects, both core sticking points, with the Palestinians, effectively trying negotiators’ hands in ongoing talks.

“Negotiations on these issues that began without the Knesset’s consent will not be binding,” the bill states, according to Israel daily Yedioth Ahronoth. “In such an instance the government will not be bound by the result [of the negotiations]. And [neither the negotiations nor their result] will have any validity for the State of Israel, the Israeli government or any of the State of Israel’s other governmental authorities.”

The proposal is based on a previous bill authored by Communications Minister Gilad Erdan in the previous Knesset but never brought to a full vote, according to new bill sponsor MK Miri Regev.

“The goal is to create a situation where negotiations on extreme concessions that harm the Jewish identity of the state and cause a wider rift between the Israeli people cannot proceed without consent from a majority of the Knesset members,” Regev said. “An act like this is an invalid act, undemocratic and, according to this proposal, also illegal — this way if negotiations proceed without consent from the Knesset, they will not have any validity.”

Likud MK Miri Regev (photo credit:  Kobi Gideon / Flash90)
Likud MK Miri Regev (photo credit: Kobi Gideon / Flash90)

The bill, which will likely face stiff opposition and have little chance of passing, would be the latest in a series of right-wing proposals seeking to limit the cabinet’s authority in managing peace talks and offering concessions.

Israel has maintained that Jerusalem will remain undivided, though the Palestinians claim the eastern part of the city for their future capital. The issue of Palestinian refugees’ right of return, which Israel has similarly dismissed, is a key demand from Ramallah.

On December 18, a bill sponsored by United Torah Judaism’s Yaakov Litzman that would have required 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.

As of now, there is already a law requiring that any peace deal that relinquishes sovereign Israeli territory be put to a national referendum.

Regev was also the sponsor of a bill to annex the Jordan Valley that was approved December 29 by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.

However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came out against that bill, saying that it would violate Israel’s commitment not to make any unilateral moves. Regev’s newest bill would likely face the same fate.

The Palestinians and Israelis are said to be at odds over most aspects of a permanent accord, notably including security arrangements, border demarcations, the fate of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugee demands.

In particular, Israel’s desire to maintain a security presence in the Jordan valley as part of any peace agreement has been a public point of contention in recent months, as the Palestinians insist that in any future deal there will be no Israeli military presence in the Palestinian state.

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