The Palestinians and Iran have slammed Israel’s new controversial law which will now make it harder for Tel Aviv to withdraw from the annexed territories of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
On Monday, the Israeli Parliament passed a new law under which withdrawal from East Jerusalem or Golan Heights would be possible only on the basis of a two-thirds approval from Parliament. In case a super-majority in Parliament fails to approve the withdrawal, a referendum will be held on the proposal.
Palestinians who want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future State have rejected the Israeli move. "Ending the occupation of our land is not and cannot be dependent on any sort of referendum," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said. He added: “With the passage of this bill, the Israeli leadership, yet again, is making a mockery of international law.”
Ghassan Khatib, director of the Palestinian Government Media Center, told Israel’s Ynet news that Monday's vote “critically damages the possibility of reviving the peace process.” He added that the “vote adds obstacles to the possibility to renew the peace process, and what we need is to remove obstacles – not to add new ones. This decision will have a negative impact on the process”.
Meanwhile, Iran’s state-run Press TV quoted analysts as saying that “the new law will kill any possibility for the resumption of the talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), which were broken off due to Tel Aviv's construction and expansion of illegal Jewish settler units on occupied Palestinian territories”.
Critics point out that by passing the bill Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has established a buffer that could help him ward off international pressure for a Palestinian takeover of East Jerusalem as part of a peace deal. Israel had annexed East Jerusalem from Jordan and Golan Heights from Syria during the course of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. In a statement Mr. Netanyahu’s office welcomed the new legislation, saying that “any peace agreement requires wide national agreement, and this law guarantees that”.
However, the new law also exposed some of the fault lines within the Israeli political establishment. Criticising the move, Defence Minister Ehud Barak said that by passing the law, the State was unnecessarily “binding itself” and was enlarging the window for international criticism. During voting on Monday, opposition leader Tzipi Livni of the Kadima party instructed her 28 members in parliament to vote against the amendment.