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Israel Buttresses Its Jerusalem Bid, Passing New Legislation

A new Israeli bill aims to make it more difficult to cede part of Jerusalem to the Palestinians, who want to make the eastern half of the disputed city the capital of an independent state, Haaretz newspaper reported.

Israel’s lawmakers on Tuesday passed legislation requiring a two-thirds majority in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, for the country to abandon control over any part of Jerusalem in favor of a foreign country, the Haaretz newspaper reported.

The bill has been backed by Israel’s ruling right-wing coalition, with a 64-52 vote, which would seek to separate Palestinian districts from the jurisdiction of the current Jerusalem municipality. The law would affect the areas of Kufr Aqab and the Shuafat refugee camp.

Many Palestinians do not have Israeli citizenship, holding only permanent resident status in the city, which can be withdrawn any time for different reasons. Thus, according to the media, the bill would force them to leave the city.

Jerusalem’s Status

The vote took place amid the tensions between the two countries, heightened in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, announced on December 6, which has triggered mass outrage in the Muslim community and numerous protests around the world. Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization, has announced the beginning of the third “intifada.”

In late December, Israel’s government approved allocating some 40 million shekels ($11 million) for the West Bank settlements, aiming to build 15 new settlement housing units, as well as new roads to the west, south and east of the Ahia settlement in the Palestinian village of Jalud, while more agricultural lands were reportedly being bulldozed in the area to clear the construction site.

However, the Trump decision was denounced by a UNGA resolution, rejecting the recognition. The UN General Assembly’s vote has been, in turn, rejected by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, claiming that Jerusalem “always was, always will be” the country’s capital and noting that many countries supported the Jewish state.

In May 2017, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) had issued a report, explaining that the biggest obstacle to meeting the “humanitarian needs” of the Palestinians is Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza. According to the document, the amount of Palestinians displaced by home demolitions reached a new high of 1,600 in 2016.

About 600,000 Israelis currently live in over 230 settlements built on Palestinian territories, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War.

Sputnik

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