World

Netanyahu allies rethink remapping of Jerusalem

  • David Halbfinger

Jerusalem: Hours after the Israeli Parliament approved new obstacles to a land-for-peace deal with the Palestinians, left-wing activists took some solace in a last-minute decision by right-wing politicians to jettison one part of their plan.

The surprise move came around 3am on Tuesday, local time, when members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's governing coalition stripped from a bill they were about to enact, language that would have made it easier to exclude Palestinians from the map of Jerusalem.

A view of the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock, some of the holiest sites for for Jews and Muslims, in Jerusalem's Old City. Photo: AP

The decision was tactical, not philosophical, but left-wing activists hoped it would give them a chance to fight another day.

The provision removed from the bill would have allowed the municipal map of Jerusalem to be redrawn without a parliamentary vote on the new boundaries.

That, in turn, would have smoothed the way for a proposal to exclude from the city several densely populated Palestinian neighbourhoods that are outside the security barrier Israel erected to prevent terrorist attacks.

Coming amid a wave of efforts by members of the coalition to throw new obstacles in the path of a two-state solution, the move cheered supporters of a Palestinian state, who have seen little else to applaud in the weeks since US President Donald Trump, reversing American policy, recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Advocates for Palestinian rights and for a two-state solution had worried that the measure would help create what some said would be Israel's first "Bantustans" on the border between Jerusalem and the West Bank - overcrowded communities left to fend for themselves without any political power, either in Israel or under the Palestinian Authority. The reference was to the apartheid South Africa territories.

In dropping the measure, the right wing had precisely the opposite goal: It wants to block a two-state solution by keeping Jerusalem intact and ensuring that parts of it will never be turned over to the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem for their capital.

New York Times