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Deri: 'Nationalist' Government Abandoned Jerusalem

Shas chairman slams Likud and Jewish Home for absence during a vote on a bill prohibiting negotiations over Jerusalem.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/19/2013, 4:38 AM

MK Aryeh Deri
MK Aryeh Deri
Hezki Ezra

Shas chairman MK Aryeh Deri slammed the members of the Likud and Jewish Home on Wednesday evening, after they all walked out of the Knesset plenum just before a vote on a bill prohibiting negotiations over Jerusalem without the approval of a majority of 80 Members of Knesset.

Due to the absence of the aforementioned MKs, the bill was rejected as only 12 MKs supported it and 51 MKs opposed. The only MK from the Likud to vote in favor of the bill was Moshe Feiglin. MK Reuven Rivlin, who was present during the vote, did not participate.

In his comments, Deri pondered how it could be that a government that considers itself a nationalist one allows a bill related to Jerusalem to fail.

"I just voted in favor of a law designed to strengthen the status of Jerusalem," he said.

"Unfortunately, those who call themselves a right-wing government chose to forgo the opportunity to keep Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, united,” he added.

The bill, which was proposed by MK Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism), 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 bill was approved two months ago by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, despite fierce opposition from Justice Minister Tzipi Livni who promised to “bury” the bill.

The reason for the absence of the Likud and Jewish Home members from Wednesday’s vote is likely due to the fact that the only reason the bill was brought to a vote to begin with was to “get revenge” on the Yesh Atid party.

In recent days, both Likud and Jewish Home have had quarrels with Yesh Atid, which was planning to unilaterally bring to a vote a bill by MK Adi Koll that would implement tax benefits for same-sex couples. The Jewish Home objects to this bill and wanted to get back at Yesh Atid by bringing up the Jerusalem bill for a vote, knowing that Finance Minister Yair Lapid objects to it.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s last minute intervention on Wednesday morning caused the same-sex bill to be postponed.