Israeli bill strengthens East Jerusalem occupation

Bill stipulates that two-thirds support is needed in Knesset before Israel can relinquish control over any part of city.

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The bill makes it more difficult for Israel to relinquish control over parts of Jerusalem [Getty Images]

Israeli legislators have approved a bill that makes it more difficult to divide Jerusalem.

The bill passed early on Tuesday and stipulates that two-thirds support is needed in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, before Israel can relinquish control over any portion of the holy city to a foreign entity, according to local media.

The bill is widely seen as intended to make it more difficult to give up part of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority, which wants the city’s eastern half to be the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

The bill, backed by Israel’s ruling right-wing coalition, was passed with 64 Knesset members voting in favour and 52 against, according to the Haaretz newspaper.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Oragnisation’s executive committee, said the bill would “destroy” hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

He went on to blame the US for the move, saying it was the outcome of a decision by President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa. 

Trump also said he intended to move the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The decision prompted widespread condemnation and protests in the occupied Palestinian territories and around the world. In a non-binding resolution, the United Nations General Assembly declared the US move “null and void”.

‘Race law’

The legislation also seeks to remove Palestinian neighbourhoods from the jurisdiction of the current Jerusalem municipality, affecting two Palestinian areas – Kufr Aqab and the Shuafat refugee camp – that are already on the other side of Israel’s separation wall and are systematically neglected, the report noted.

Most Palestinians in Jerusalem hold permanent resident status, not Israeli citizenship, and their status can be revoked at any time for multiple reasons, forcing them to leave the city.

Israel has revoked nearly 15,000 Palestinian residency permits in Jerusalem since it took control of the city in 1967, Human Rights Watch estimates.

“The new Jerusalem law is a race law; it’s a law meant to cleanse Jerusalem of its Arab residents,” Israeli legislator Esawi Freige said during the vote on the bill, according to Haaretz. “After the Israeli government chose to erect a wall within Jerusalem, now it is seeking to remove 100,000 of its residents from the city.”

Israel took control of the entirety of Jerusalem after its victory in the 1967 war. It later annexed East Jerusalem in a move that remains unrecognised by the international community.

Palestinian leaders seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, while Israel says the city cannot be divided.

Source: Al Jazeera