Sunday’s cabinet meeting was a wild one, as ministers debated the merits of the United Yerushalayim bill proposed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett. Bennett had sought to get approval of the bill for legislation from the Ministerial Law Committee, but last minute intervention by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu put a stop to that, and the bill was shelved.
Under the bill, any deal to divide Yerushalayim would not be approved unless 80 Knesset members voted for it. According to the law, the current municipal boundaries of the city will remain intact unless 80 MKs vote that they are willing to surrender part of the city to the Palestinian Authority, if and when a negotiated settlement develops between Israel and the PA that would require Israeli compromises on Yerushalayim.
The law is similar to one passed in 2014, a Basic Law that requires a referendum on land concessions of sovereign Israeli territory. If 80 MKs vote for an agreement that requires such concessions, then the referendum would be canceled. The new law would go a step beyond that, eliminating the possibility of a referendum on the matter altogether, and requiring a vote of 80 MKs to concede parts of the city.
Sources in Jewish Home told Channel Two that Netanyahu was guilty of hypocrisy. “You unite Yerushalayim with actions, not words. We are sorry to see how politics within the coalition supersedes the importance of keeping Yerushalayim united. We will continue to fight for this law and get approved for legislation and passed into law as soon as possible.”
In response, sources in the Likud said that Bennett was not following the rules – intentionally, as he was seeking to make political hay out of the matter. “This is in essence a change in a Basic Law, and according to the coalition agreement all such legislation needs to be reviewed by all coalition members.” The Prime Minister, said the source, was simply doing his political duty, and if Bennett was interested in passing the law, he should work harder to turn it into a coalition-sponsored one, not a private MKs law.