JERUSALEM: The Knesset (Israel’s parliament) has approved second and third readings of a bill that would make it necessary to obtain the approval of 80 of 120 assembly members to change the status of Jerusalem.
The two readings were approved late Monday by a vote of 64 to 54 with one MP abstaining.
Proposed by MP Shuli Moalem-Refaeli of the right-wing Jewish Home party, the law is intended to make it more difficult to alter the city’s official status, including, presumably, its municipal boundaries.
“The law makes it necessary to obtain the approval of 80 MPs to divide or transfer territories from the capital [Jerusalem] within the framework of a future diplomatic agreement,” read a statement issued by the Knesset’s media office. Previously, only 61 Knesset votes were required to alter the city’s official status or boundaries.
The bill, however, also states that the law can be overridden by new legislation that would require only a simple majority of votes (60+1) to pass.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the decades-long Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem — now occupied by Israel — might eventually serve as capital of an independent Palestinian state.
Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. In a move never recognized by the international community, Israel annexed the entire city in 1980 claiming it as its “eternal and undivided” capital. International law continues to view the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories” and considers all Jewish settlement construction there as illegal.
Early last month, U.S. President Donald Trump drew widespread condemnation and protest from across the Arab and Muslim world when he announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.