A proposal for a new Basic Law in Israel regarding Jerusalem promoted by Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett is causing a political storm as it’s stipulations may potentially pose as a problem for any future peace process. The bill would require that the Knesset do anything and everything to protect the capital of Israel in case of any threats to its status.

Photo Credit: Haim Hornstein/Channel 2 News

The proposed bill “Basic Law: Jerusalem the Capital of Israel” promoted by Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett was brought up for vote today (Sunday) in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, and sparked a political storm. The Israeli Prime Minister’s office argued that the proposal would only be supported if the prime minister had veto power over the law’s progress, but Bennett objected and demanded that the law be passed in its current draft.

“We are sorry that narrow political considerations prevail over the prevention of Jerusalem’s division,” wrote Ha-Bayit Ha-Yehudi in a statement. “We will continue to fight for the passing of this law, and we will make every effort to advance this law in the coming days.”

However, the Prime Minister’s Office claims the reason they demanded a veto power was not in fear of advancing a political agreement or due to political pressure, but rather a desire that the relevant ministries, the Jerusalem Affairs Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office, would be able to influence legislation and make comments later on. The office emphasized that they support the bill in principle, but their question is whether it will advance in its present version or would the relevant ministries’ comments be allowed in?   

The bill, if passed, would stipulate that only by a special majority vote of 80 Knesset members would it be possible to formally give up any land in Jerusalem. Such a proposal could be problematic for any future peace process. Deputy Attorney General Avi Licht criticized the way in which the Basic Law was approved.

“Jerusalem is a city of special status and significance” Photo Credit: Hadas Parush, Flash90/Channel 2 News

The bill states that any authority relating to the boundaries of Jerusalem will not be transferred to a foreign party, political or governmental, unless approved by a majority of Knesset members. “Jerusalem is a city of special status and historical significance for the Jewish people as its eternal capital,” the proposal states. “When there are signs of an attempt to undermine these fundamental conventions that are at the basis of our national existence, the Knesset must act to prevent any harm to the capital of Israel.”

Furthermore, according to the bill’s proposal the purpose of this special majority vote Jerusalem is for security reasons. The bill cites the terror elements that took over and threaten Israel’s security, following Israel’s withdrawal and disengagement from southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, respectively. The bill was signed today by 22 Knesset members.