Ban on Negotiating Jerusalem Rejected in Preliminary Reading
The Knesset plenum on Wednesday rejected a preliminary reading of a bill prohibiting the holding of negotiations over Jerusalem without the approval of a majority of 80 Members of Knesset.
12 MKs supported the bill; 51 MKs opposed. One abstained and another two Knesset members declined to participate in the voting process.
According to Maariv, both Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid were among the votes against the proposal.
The only coalition member to vote for the proposed bill was MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud-Beytenu). Both Jewish Home and the rest of the Likud-Beytenu MKs were absent from the Knesset session.
Two months ago, the Committee for Legislative Affairs approved the bill, which was originally proposed by MK Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism). The bill, if passed, would have blocked foreign nations from introducing the division of the Holy City as a factor in negotiations without approval from at least 80 Knesset members. Negotiations without that approval would have been declared not legally binding for the state or for the Jerusalem municipality.
The explanatory section of the bill explains that "Jerusalem is a united city, and it shall not be distributed or divided by anyone. The sanctity of Jerusalem was not given to foreign parties."
Litzman insisted that both the Prime Minister and the Jewish Home parties had expressed support for the bill. It remains unclear why they were not present at the Knesset vote.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said that the government is opposed to proposed bill.
"The story of this bill is a cynical attempt to use the most important place for every Jew in the world to embarrass the coalition," Livni claimed, stating that it would be dangerous to Jerusalem. "Jerusalem is not the only capital and our connection to it is not only religious," she insisted. "The monopoly on that relationship is not subject to the control of any [particular] party."
Livni also noted that the bill would have halted the current negotiations between the Prime Minister and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. "Most citizens of Israel want a state which conducts negotiations," she claimed.
The Palestinian Authority has been adamant during the negotiations process, which is ongoing under the supervision of US Secretary of State John Kerry, that Jerusalem be made the capital of a Palestinian state.