The right-wing Israeli legislature approved a law on Tuesday that increases the number of votes required to cede control of any portion of Jerusalem to "a foreign party," in a move that journalist Glenn Greenwald characterized as the government "candidly and explicitly admitting its real policy" of "apartheid" and shattering any remaining pretense "that Israel is working in a 'peace process' toward a two-state solution."
The sooner western liberals are forced by Israeli candor to repudiate what they all know is a pretense - that Israel is working in a "peace process" toward a 2-state solution - the better off everyone will be. Giving up that lie will force more truth about what Israel really is.— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 2, 2018
The move is just the latest blow to the potential for a two-state solution to the decades-long battle between the Israelis and Palestinians, who claim the right to make East Jerusalem the captial of their future state.
"We hope that this vote serves as a reminder for the international community that the Israeli government, with the full support of the U.S. administration, is not interested in a just and lasting peace... Rather, its main goal is the consolidation of an apartheid regime in all of historic Palestine."
—Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority
Israel annexed East Jerusalem in the regional war in 1967, and control over it has been a focus of all peace negotiations between the Israeli government and the Paletstinian Authority. The annexation was "not recognized internationally," as Reuters notes, but the Israeli government considers the entire city its "eternal and indivisible" capital.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the new law a "declaration of war on Palestinians."
"We hope that this vote serves as a reminder for the international community that the Israeli government, with the full support of the U.S. administration, is not interested in a just and lasting peace," Abbas added. "Rather, its main goal is the consolidation of an apartheid regime in all of historic Palestine."
The law was sponsored by the far-right Jewish Home coaliton and requires that 80 members of the 120-seat legislature, or Knesset, approve partioning off any piece of the Jerusalem, which contains several Jewish, Muslim, and Christian holy sites. Previously, a proposal on the matter would have only required a simple majority of 61 votes.
"We've ensured the unity of Jerusalem," Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads Jewish Home and co-sponsored the legislation, declared on Twitter. "The Mount of Olives, the Old City, and the City of David will forever remain ours."
"We are telling the world that it doesn't matter what the nations of the world say," Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan reportedly told more than 1,000 members of Likud's central committee on Sunday. "The time has come to express our biblical right to the land."
"What was winked and nodded about before is now being acknowledged publicly: 'We have no intent of sharing this land with anybody else except as a barely tolerated minority,'" Daniel Seidemann, director of Terrestrial Jerusalem, which focuses on Jerusalem's fate in a potential two-state solution, told the New York Times.
Dov Khenin, a Knesset member with the Joint List, told Israel's i24NEWS that the legislation should be called "the law to prevent peace" and warned "the law means that there will be bloodshed."
The Times notes this move "to make it far more difficult to create a Palestinian state" follows actions that "have come on multiple fronts, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's party for the first time has urged the annexation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and the nation's top legal officers pressed to extend Israeli law into occupied territory."
Detailing "arguably the most provocative, though least substantive" of other recent measures, the Times points to "a nonbinding but unanimous vote on Sunday by the central committee of Mr. Netanyahu's party, Likud, to support the 'free construction and application of Israeli law and sovereignty in all liberated areas of settlement' in the West Bank."
"If such a measure became law, it would effectively annex Israeli settlements on land that the Palestinians demand for a future state and leave them with an archipelago of disconnected territory," the Times explains. "The West Bank is now under military jurisdiction, though settlers are subject to civilian law, as Israeli citizens."
These actions follow a recent decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel, and his subsequent promise to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, which most foreign governments regard as the Israeli capital. Trump's move provoked international alarm and outrage, and the United Nations General Assembly voted 128-9 to declare the decision "null and void."