Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is preparing to appeal against the Knesset if a vote goes against her on a bill which would ban Israel from relinquishing control over parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinians. The bill requires support from more than 80 MKs if it is to become law.
Livni is Israel’s main negotiator in the talks with the Palestinian Authority and believes that the bill could hamper any possible agreement arising out of them. The Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted on Sunday to support the bill in parliament although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes it and is expected to support Livni’s appeal.
A member of the opposition told Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth that the aim of the bill was to hold Netanyahu to his promise not to divide Jerusalem. “I am happy for the right to keep and defend Jerusalem,” the anonymous MK said. “Netanyahu promised more than once not to negotiate on Jerusalem. This bill is intended to hold him to that promise and to keep [Jerusalem] united.” It is the capital of Israel, he added, and is not up for negotiation.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has told a German TV channel that the Palestine-Israel negotiations are not facing a dead end, which had been claimed by an Israeli newspaper last week. Maariv quoted Israeli officials who said repeatedly that Israel is not planning to offer any serious concessions in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Netanyahu also insisted that the occupied Jordan Valley is an essential part of Israel.
“The negotiations are difficult, but they have not reached a dead end,” said Abbas on Deutsche Welle. “They are still in the initial stage and we have enough time to deal with the main issues that turn out to be difficult.”
The president claimed that things are not at a dead end despite the increase in illegal settlements across the occupied Palestinian territories. He insisted that Israel’s settlement policy must halt.
“Settlements must stop. The incursions into the Palestinian territories must not be continued. The encroachments of the settlers must not go on. The attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque must end.” All, he concluded, hinder the peace process, “but we carry on nevertheless”.