Justice Minister Tzippy Livni on Monday spoke out against a law that would require any withdrawals from land within the city limits of Jerusalem to be approved by 80 MKs. The law was authored by MK Yaakov Litzman (UTJ).
The Knesset Ministerial Law Committee on Sunday authorized the law for a Knesset vote, with five ministers voting in favor, and four against. Opposing were ministers from Yesh Atid, along with Livni herself, while those in favor included ministers Uri Ariel, Uri Orbach, Yair Shamir, and Sofa Landver. Likud ministers abstained.
“It is unacceptable and shocking that members of the government destroy the right of the government to determine the interests of the state, and make a decision that says the government is not responsible for the diplomatic interests of Israel,” Livni said, claiming that the sponsors of the bill tabled it for “populist' reasons.”
According to ministers who voted for the law, the vast majority of Israelis support retaining all of Jerusalem under any circumstances.
The Palestinian Authority has demanded a full withdrawal from all areas of Jerusalem liberated by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. That would include neighborhoods like Ramat Eshkol, Gilo, French Hill, and of course the entire Old City, along with Judaism's holiest site, the Temple Mount.
The law would require 80 MKs to approve withdrawals - or “land swaps” - involving these areas. In addition, the law would require the approval of 80 Knesset members for withdrawals from Arab neighborhoods that are within the city limits of Jerusalem, such as Beit Hanina.
Livni insisted she was not being “disloyal” to Jerusalem with her stance.
“No one will teach me about how important Jerusalem is. No one loves Jerusalem more than we in the government do, and no one loves it less. We are second to none in our feelings for Jerusalem,” she said.
In order to prevent the advancement of the bill to legislation, Livni said she had filed a protest on the decision. “We will do everything we can to ensure the interests of Israel, and this is done with negotiations,” she said. “I thought that the job of ministers was to ensure that the government can move things forward and reach a conclusion in the negotiations.
“We are in a period when the Arab world, and the rest of the world as well, are looking at us. Jerusalem is a very sensitive subject. With negotiations going on with the Palestinians, this is no time for such laws,” Livni said.