- Thomson Reuters
- Israel passed a law which will make negotiations with the Palestinians tougher.
- The new bill requires a 2/3 parliamentary majority to divide Jerusalem, which is a central Palestinian demand for peace.
- At almost the same time, US President Donald Trump threatened to cut off aid money to the Palestinians, saying they aren’t interested in peace.
- Trump recently took Israel’s side by formally declaring Jerusalem their capital.
Israel passed a new law which will make plans for peace in the Middle East much more difficult, just before US President Donald Trump attacked the Palestinians for lagging peace negotiations.
Israeli lawmakers passed a bill early on Tuesday morning which limits the ability of its government to divide Jerusalem, which is a central Palestinian demand for a two-state agreement.
The legislative move came as Trump threatened to take away hundreds of millions of dollars of aid payments to the Palestinians, on the grounds that they “are no longer willing to talk peace.”
The new law states that parts of Jerusalem can only be relinquished in a future peace deal if a supermajority of the Knesset, Israel’s legislature, approves of the decision.
This means that 80 out of 120 of Israel’s parliament members must vote in favor in order to give away control over any part of Jerusalem.
The law is designed to make it increasingly difficult to divide up Jerusalem in any future negotiations with the Palestinians.
Israel strongly claims Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
The law was proposed by religious nationalist party Jewish Home, and backed by its partners in Israel’s ultra right-wing coalition government. Several opposition leaders strongly opposed the decision, and Israel’s deputy parliament speaker likened it to apartheid conditions in South Africa.
The spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that the law is a “declaration of war on the Palestinian people,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
“This vote clearly indicates that the Israeli side has officially declared the end of what is called the political process and has begun imposing a policy of dictates,” said the spokesman, according to the Post.
Why does this law matter?
Trump’s recent decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has emboldened Israel’s leadership to take dramatic measures to safeguard their claims to land in Jerusalem.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has previously stated Palestine would only agree to peace if Israel agreed to a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as the capital for a future Palestinian state.
Hours after Israel passed its law on Jerusalem, Trump affirmed the US belief that the Palestinians are the major roadblock in peace negotiations, tweeting: “We pay the Palestinians hundreds of millions of dollars a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel.”
“We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table … But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”
Trump believes his decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will help shape future peace negotiations for good. But Palestinian policymakers, international leaders, and the United Nations all seem to disagree.
With Washington supporting Israel’s claims to Jerusalem, Israel is unlikely to concede to Palestinian demands, leaving the future of peace as unlikely as ever.