The PA legislature has passed the first reading of a law forbidding any concessions in, or even negotiations regarding, Jerusalem. 

Ahmed Bahar, a leading Hamas member and the Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian Authority parliament, announced Thursday that the body had passed a first reading of a "Jerusalem bill."  The legislation, proposed by Hamas parliament member Ahmed Abu Hilbiya, absolutely bans giving up any part of Jerusalem.

The bill states that Jerusalem, according to its "borders recognized during the period of the Islamic Khalifate," is "Palestinian, Arab, Islamic land."  It further avers that all of Jerusalem, "including its archaeological sites and the sites that are holy to Islam and Christianity, are waqf (dedicated in sanctity) for Palestinian, Arab and Islamic generations."  This would appear to include not only the Temple Mount, but also the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter, and the City of David.

The new PA bill also states that it is forbidden to discuss, cede, or negotiate over any part of Jerusalem, or hold a referendum on this matter - and that if such negotiations or votes are held, they are null and void in advance.  Anyone who violates the above provisions on behalf of the PA will be considered guilty of treason, the bill states, and will be liable to the relevant punishments.

The PA legislature will convene "soon," Bahar said, to pass the law's second reading, after which it will be passed on to PA chairman and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas for his signature.

Jewish People and Jerusalem

The Jewish People have taken a similar stance regarding Jerusalem, even if Israel's government has lagged somewhat behind.  In July 1980, the Knesset approved the Jerusalem Law, determining that "complete and united Jerusalem is Israel's capital."  However, current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said last week that "the Government of Israel has a sovereign right to negotiate anything on behalf of Israel." He made his position clear that Jews outside Israel had no right to participate in decisions about the future of Jerusalem.

At a prayer vigil in Chicago just prior to the Annapolis conference last week, religious Jews of all stripes stood together in prayer for Jerusalem.  The message, as stated by Young Israel's Rabbi Pesach Lerner, was clear: "Yerushalayim [Jerusalem] is not for discussion, Yerushalayim is not for sale, Yerushalayim must remain undivided forever."

Agudath Israel of America adopted a blunt resolution at its 85th national convention the day stating, "Israel must not relinquish parts of Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty, and the American government must not pressure the Israeli government into doing so."

The Orthodox Union (OU) declared it had no intention of dictating policy to Israel, but expressed its "resolute stand" that all Jews in the world have a share in "the holy city of Jerusalem."

The Coordinating Council on Jerusalem stated unequivocally, "World Jewry opposes Israeli negotiations which would include any discussion of ceding sovereignty over part or all of Jerusalem." 

Before news of the new PA law was learned, Transportation Minister Sha'ul Mofaz - somewhat of a hawk within Kadima - stated at a Kadima Party Chanukah candle lighting ceremony Thursday evening, "Jerusalem must remain united as Israel's capital forever."

Opposition Leader Binyamin Netanyahu of the Likud said on Thursday, "The People of Israel has spilled blood and tears; it did not sacrifice its most precious sons in ancient times, nor now, just so the current government could give up Jerusalem.  We will not let such a thing happen.  The Temple Mount is in our hands, and must remain in our hands."