Israel/Palestine: The Politics of a Two-State Solution

  • Israel/Palestine and the Politics of a Two-State Solution
  • When Peace Fails: Lessons from Belfast for the Middle East

Friday, October 25, 2013

A New Wave of Right-Wing Legislation in Israel?

The 972 website carried this story about a new Knesset bill that has made it through the first step to becoming law by winning a majority vote in the respective committee. The bill would require a supermajority of 80 MKs in favor to give up any part of Jerusalem. Some opponents of the bill have pointed out two absurdities of this in legal terms. First, it negates the Government Basic Law, which with other basic laws passed by the Knesset forms a rudimentary constitution for Israel, which assigns to the government all power over foreign policy. Second, it allows a simple majority to require a supermajority to undo it. For this reason it is doubtful that the bill will pass constitutional muster when it comes before the Israeli Supreme Court (Bagetz) as it undoubtedly will if passed.

This new bill is important for three reasons. First, it could be the first of a new wave of legislation that is nationalistic and anti-liberal if not anti-democratic. Such a wave was passed by the Knesset in 2010. Second, this legislation serves as an indicator of the general attitude towards peace of members of the Knesset (MKs) who might vote for it, oppose it, or abstain. Third, by picking one or two bills to oppose while letting the others go forward, PM Benjamin Netanyahu can pose as a champion of peace and democracy while allowing the road to peace become even more difficult. Netanyahu has done this in the past. 

Supporters of peace talks have grown ever more desperate for signs of optimism. Ben Birnbaum has claimed that Netanyahu is preparing to divide Jerusalem because he no longer makes a point of demanding the unity of Jerusalem every time he speaks.  It may also be that he sees no real threat to Jerusalem at the moment and does not need to invent one as long as he has Iran's nuclear efforts as an issue.

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