BYLAHAV HARKOV  JULY 16, 2017 

 The amendment to Basic Law: Jerusalem states that giving up Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem would require approval by 80 MKs, three-fourths of the Knesset.

Legislation making it practically impossible to divide Jerusalem in diplomatic negotiations can move forward after the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved it Sunday.

The amendment to Basic Law: Jerusalem pushed by Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett states that giving up Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem would require approval by 80 MKs, three-fourths of the Knesset.

Bennett said that “uniting around the united Jerusalem bill will strengthen us in the world and prevent future pressures on Israel.”

“Jerusalem was saved from the disaster of division twice, led by [former prime ministers] Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, who had a temporary majority in the Knesset,” Bennett recounted. “That’s over. The united Jerusalem bill…will prevent any possibility of dividing Jerusalem.”

The bill does have a loophole, allowing for the division of Jerusalem in its current municipal borders, though the process would still be complicated. Israel could theoretically decide to break areas from Jerusalem and create a new municipality for them while keeping them under Israeli sovereignty, which requires a 61-MK majority to amend Basic Law: Jerusalem. Then, the government can negotiate giving them to the Palestinians, though it would still have to undergo a national vote, as the concession of any sovereign Israeli land would, under Basic Law: National Referendum.

The loophole was created after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blocked the proposal two weeks ago. Netanyahu cited the coalition agreement as the reason for his actions, but he is thought to have an eye on US President Donald Trump and his efforts to negotiate a deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Promoting legislation that could tie Netanyahu’s hands in peace talks could alienate Trump.