Blocking the division of Jerusalem

Jewish Home advances amendment of Basic Law which seeks to protect against future diplomatic agreements dividing the capital.

Tal Polon ,

Education Minister Naftali Bennett at the Western Wall
Education Minister Naftali Bennett at the Western Wall

The Jewish Home party is advancing an amendment to Israeli Basic Law about Jerusalem to ensure that the city is never divided.

Israel Hayom reported that Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett is pushing to amend Israel’s “Basic Law: Jerusalem the Capital of Israel” to stipulate that the capital cannot be divided unless such a move gains the support of 80 out of the 120 MKs.

According to the report, the amendment is set to go to a vote in the Knesset Law Committee - where Jewish Home believes that it will receive a majority of votes. Similarly, the party does not believe that the amendment will see opposition within the coalition.

Israel’s Basic Law about Jerusalem already stipulates that “The complete and united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel” and that “No powers concerning the limits of Jerusalem [...] shall be transferred to a foreign political or governing power.” Nevertheless, a senior Jewish Home official explained to Israel Hayom that the new amendment seeks to further protect the status of Jerusalem in any future diplomatic agreement by giving strength to Prime Minister Netanyahu in light of his recent “string of concessions.”

This week, it will be remembered, it was announced that 14,000 housing units for 50,000 Arab residents were approved for construction in Area C, which is under full Israeli responsibility, for the city of Qalqilya. The move would double the size of the city, located in Area A, at the expense of land in Area C which was intended for Israeli development.

The move came a week after a mere 2,000 housing units for Jews were approved by the government in the entirety of Judea and Samaria, where the Jewish population is approximately 450,000 and buildihng has been frozen for years.

Bennett explained that he saw the amendment as an opportunity to bolster the undivided status of Jerusalem.

“I see an opportunity to bolster Jerusalem in the age of Trump, such that it will never be possible to divide it again,” he said according to the report. “Unfortunately, the lack of building is a missed opportunity. Therefore I am advancing this bill to prevent a situation in the future in which, in a sudden consensus, as was the case with Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, they will bring about a division of Jerusalem." Both former prime ministers had agreed to a wide-ranging plan for giving up large areas and that agreed to divide Jerusalem, but it was rejected by the PA.

“This is a strategic process. We will advance the bill even within the current Knesset round [by August]. I expect participation from the coalition and opposition to back this step which blocks the division of Jerusalem in the future.”