Archive for the ‘Jerusalem’ Category

Emboldened by Trump, Israel pushes on with East Jerusalem settlement plans – The Guardian

Israeli construction cranes and excavators at a building site of the Jewish settlement of Neve Yaakov, in the northern area of East Jerusalem. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

Israel is pushing forward with controversial plans to build 1,800 new settlement housing units in occupied East Jerusalem in the largest proposed surge in construction in recent years.

The plans are expected to be considered by the Jerusalem district planning committee this month. If approved, they would mark an end to the relative slowdown in Israeli construction in the eastern parts of the city.

Israels rightwing government appears to have been emboldened by the pro-Israel stance of the Trump administration, which has been far more muted in its criticism of settlements than its predecessor.

When the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Donald Trump in Washington earlier this year, the US president issued a weakly-worded request that Netanyahu limit settlement activity.

The disclosure of the East Jerusalem plans by the Peace Now group came as Netanyahu approved proposals to allow Israeli MPs to once again visit the flashpoint Temple Mount-Haram al-Sharif complex on a five-day trial, starting this month.

Visits by MPs to the site considered the holiest in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam were banned in 2015 after a wave of Palestinian violence following claims that Israel was attempting to take control of the compound.

The two issues seem likely to raise tensions once again in Jerusalem, over which Israel has claimed sovereignty since it seized the Old City and eastern neighbourhoods in 1967. Israels claim is not recognised by much of the international community. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

The construction plans include proposals for Jewish buildings, such as an eight-storey yeshiva, in Sheikh Jarrah, which Palestinians regard as being at the very heart of East Jerusalem.

According to Peace Now, the plans would also involve demolishing the homes of five Palestinian families, who have had long-term tenancy rights.

Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law as they are built on occupied territory.

Last month, Israel began work on the first new settlement in the West Bank in 25 years to house rightwing extremist settlers expelled from the illegal out-post of Amona in February.

According to official Israeli statistics the period between April 2016 and March 2017 saw a 70.4% increase in settlement housing construction in the occupied West Bank.

The plans for new settlement housing in Sheikh Jarrah are likely to be the most contentious following an outcry seven years ago which prompted mass protests by activists when Palestinians were evicted in similar moves.

The neighbourhood is regarded as heavy with symbolism for both sides. For Israel, it was home to a small Jewish community until 1948 when East Jerusalem came under Jordanian rule after the war that saw Israels birth.

Then in the 1950s several dozen Palestinian refugee families from west Jerusalem displaced by the same war were settled there.

In recent years, however, a number of these Palestinian families have been evicted as a result of Israeli court rulings to recognise pre-1948 Jewish ownership claims under laws that refuse to recognise claims made by Palestinians forced to leave west Jerusalem in similar circumstances.

Peace Now and other groups condemned the plans, accusing the Israeli government of trying to destroy the two-state solution.

The government is brutally attempting to destroy the possibility of the two-state solution, and this time it is by establishing a new settlement at the heart of a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem and promoting nearly 1,800 housing units beyond the Green Line, they said in a statement.

The eviction of five Palestinian families, which are protected tenants, in order to establish a new settlement in Sheikh Jarrah shows that nothing will get in the way of settler groups and a pro-settler government from preventing a future compromise in Jerusalem.

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Jerusalem Youth Peace Summit Opens with Interfaith Prayer – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: Scholas Occurentes

75 Jewish, Christian, and Muslim youth from around the world gathered at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Sunday for a unique summit, answering Pope Francis call to create a culture of encounter for peace. Students ages 15 and 16 from Argentina, Brazil, Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Mexico, and Spain joined their Israeli Jewish and Arab counterparts for 4 days of learning through arts, sports, technology, and living together.

At the opening ceremony, young people expressed their hopes for peace through a variety of artistic presentations. Students from Burundi and Congo performed a song in Swahili; students from Beit Hanina performed Imagine by John Lennon; and students from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance sang of peace in Hebrew.

Three senior religions leaders, representing the three Abrahamic faiths, gave opening benedictions as part of an interreligious prayer for peace: Kadi Iyad Zahalka, The Kadi of Jerusalem and the Head of the Sharia Courts of Israel; His Eminence Mons; Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Nuncio to Israel; and Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Dov Rosen, the Rabbi of Yakar Congregation in Jerusalem.

Yakar, founded by the children of the late Yaacov Kopul Rosen, founder of Carmel College in Notting Hill, London, encourages interfaith meetings between Orthodox Jews and non-Jewish persons of faith.

The summit, July 2 to 5, 2017, is co-organized by the Pontifical Scholas Occurrentes and the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University. Within the framework of this gathering, two major events are taking place: Scholas Chairs International Congress 2017: Between University and School Peacebuilding through Culture of Encounter and Interreligious Citizenship Encounter.

The closing ceremony on Wednesday, July 5, is expected to include greetings from Pope Francis, together with the planting of an olive tree for peace in his name, as students describe their experiences and present their works of art and their social projects.

Speaking at a meeting with leaders of Scholas and the Hebrew University at his residence on February 7, Pope Francis said: Religion can bring us together and teach us to create the bonds of friendship. With the intuition of Scholas and the intelligence and history of the Hebrew University, I am sure that this will produce great changes in the world.

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Forced to sign waiver to use ritual bath alone, some Jerusalem women fear coercion – The Times of Israel

Lea was standing in only a towel when the ritual bath attendant barred the 32-year-olds way, saying she must fill out a waiver before entering the water alone. Feeling vulnerable and unable to collect herself, Lea waited for the woman to go out and fetch the form, and, still clad only in a towel, wrote in her personal information and signed it.

In any other condition, the religious feminist in me would have taken over and I would have protested, Lea says. But when youre in the moment youll agree to anything they say.

Its a problem confronting an increasing number of women in the Jerusalem area since a Supreme Court ruling last year granted women the right to refuse the supervision of an attendant, known as a balanit, when immersing in the mikva, or ritual bath. Until this ruling, the presence of the balanit during the immersion process was mandatory for women.

The issue of female ritual immersion is an extremely personal one: It revolves around the menstruation cycle and directly impacts whether a husband and wife are allowed to have sexual relations under Jewish law. As such it is a subject that is referred to very delicately among religious circles, if at all. (While some men also choose to ritually purify themselves, male immersion in the mikva does not usually carry the halachic urgency of female immersion.)

Ritual baths operating under the auspices of local religious councils throughout the country have, for the most part, been accommodating since the Supreme Court ruling. But the conservative-leaning Jerusalem Religious Council requires women who enter the water alone to fill out a paper form with their name and personal identification number.

According to the Jerusalem council, the form absolves it of responsibility should anything happen when the woman is alone in the water. Councils in other municipalities do not require such a form.

Illustrative: Mikvah immersion with a balanit. (Mayyim Hayyim/Tom Kates via JTA)

While it is technically within the confines of halacha for a woman to dip alone, stringencies recommend that she do it in the presence of the balanit, who can ensure that she is entirely under the water. This has led some to feel that the waiver carries with it undertones of religious coercion.

I told the balanit, I understand that its now okay for me to do this without you, and Id like to do it, so how does that work? says Lea. And she was like, No, what do you need to do that for, you know its better to dip with a balanit, its not halachic to do otherwise. And I replied, Actually, I know the halacha and Id like to do it this way. So she said okay, but that I needed to sign a form.

A pending lawsuit initiated by ITIM, a nonprofit organization that assists and advocates for people navigating their way through religious bureaucracy in Israel, claims that not only are the waivers noncompliant with the Supreme Courts ruling, they arent legally binding in the first place.

They do not understand that they must respect the dignity of women coming to immerse

The religious principles of modesty and kavod habriyot [respecting the needs of others] apply to all segments of Israeli society and this is not clear to the Jerusalem Religious Council, says Rabbi Dr. Seth Farber, director of ITIM. They do not understand that they must respect the dignity of women coming to immerse, their modesty, privacy and peace of mind. Mikva immersion shouldnt be fraught with tension but rather a positive and personal experience. This is how it is characterized in the halachic tradition.

Unfortunately, Farber continues, in some mikvaot in Israel, people are made to feel unwelcome. This will have to change. We will continue to support womens rights in mikvaot and if necessary, turn to the legal system to force the issue.

Rabbi Dr. Seth Farber, director of ITIM. (Courtesy)

Attorney Asher Axelrod, who represents the Jerusalem Religious Council, says that the waivers are an issue of liability alone.

How do you expect that someone should insist on entering the water unsupervised and the council should still be responsible? he says. This is a simple matter of responsibility for potential damages and not a halachic question at all.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Religious Services sees where both parties are coming from.

Illustrative: Activists protesting for mikva reform in Jerusalem, March 13, 2016. (Michal Smith Hazan/JTA)

The ministry understands why the Jerusalem Religious Council feels the need for these forms, says Shlomi Naki. But given the decision of the Supreme Court, it is legally problematic. The ministry would like to see a solution that can accommodate both sides.

Dr. Naomi Marmon Grumet, founder of the Eden Center in Jerusalem which trains female mikva attendants, is more vocal in her opposition to the waivers.

This is obviously something that is making women feel very uncomfortable. They are coming there out of their free will to use the mikva, and now that she has the legal protection to use the mikva without an attendant, there should be no reason whatsoever for a woman to sign a waiver, she says.

Ive never seen a waiver for a man who goes to the mikva where there is no male attendant

Whats more, Marmon Grumet continues, Ive never seen a waiver for a man who goes to the mikva where there is no male attendant, so there should be no difference between a woman using a mikva and a man using a mikva without an attendant.

Its a discrimination claim Axelrod was prepared to defend preemptively.

[The Supreme Court ruling] creates a problem that doesnt exist for men because the balan [male attendant] is always there and he is responsible. If a woman goes in without supervision, she takes responsibility upon herself in case something happens. But men never request this. If a man were to request such a thing, he would be required to sign the form there is no scenario in which a man could enter the mikva and immerse alone, he says.

A mikvah. (Illustrative photo credit: CC-BY-SA Tamar Hayardeni/Wikimedia Commons)

I do not think that is the case, says Marmon Grumet. I dont frequent mens mikvaot. There is a balan hes not usually there when men come in. I dont know if there are hours for the mens mikva, I believe you can just come in at any time. Ive never seen or heard that there is a balan. Im curious to go right now to the mens mikva and see if theres a balan there.

Several male mikva-goers contacted for the purpose of this story say that they almost never encounter a balan during their aquatic excursions though there are almost always other men there and it is not clear whether the mikvaot they frequent are under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem Religious Council.

The women have a choice. Either they can dip with an attendant or they can fill out the form

There are numerous private mikvaot utilized by men and women that are not subject to the regulations imposed on public ones, though they are more costly.

The women have a choice, says Axelrod. Either they can dip with an attendant or they can fill out the form. Its either one or the other. No one is forcing them to come to the mikva in the first place.

Because marriage in Israel is performed exclusively through the Chief Rabbinate, ceremonies for Jews of all denominations conform to Orthodox halacha. One of the prerequisites is that brides-to-be must visit a mikva and provide written documentation to the effect that they immersed and are now ritually permissible to their future husbands.

Illustrative: Male use of the mikvah is not new. Many dunk ahead of weddings, feast days, and even Shabbat. (Courtesy of Mayyim Hayyim/via JTA)

The Eden Center estimates that 30,000 women visit the mikva regularly in the Jerusalem area, and that 750,000 go nationwide. Most of those who immerse each month are religious, though some less-observant women cherish the ritual as well and it has long been a symbol connecting families to Jewish tradition. For some, it is a choice they make to indulge their more religious partners.

Whatever their reasons for visiting the ritual bath, for many people, the exact halachic requirements are somewhat murky.

A telephone receptionist for the Ministry of Religious Services was surprised that anyone would make the choice to enter the water in private, though she was more than happy to help find a Ministry spokesperson.

Why would someone want to do that? That sounds strange to me, she volunteered, when informed of the purpose of the call. The woman needs a balanit there to make sure her immersion was kosher.

Israeli Minister of Religious Services David Azulay visits a luxury mikva. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

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Modi to hold mass rally for Indians in Israel – The Jerusalem Post

With an estimated 31 million India-born people living abroad either temporarily or permanently, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi views the Indian Diaspora as a significant and valuable diplomatic asset.

This is why he makes it a point to hold large, often times rock-concert like events with people of Indian origin when he travels abroad. He has done this on his travels to the United States, where in 2014 he attracted 19,000 people to Madison Square Garden in New York; to Britain; Australia; the United Arab Emirates; and just last week during a trip to the Netherlands, where he stopped on his way home from visiting the US and Portugal.

Modi will keep this practice alive when he arrives in Israel this week for the first ever visit of an Indian prime minister.

Israel, obviously, cannot compete with countries like the US, which has an estimated 4.5 million Indian-born people living there; or Saudi Arabia, with 4.1 million; the United Arab Emirates with 3.8 million; or the United Kingdom, with 1.8 million. Still, with an estimated 80,000- 85,0000 non-resident Indians or persons of Indian origin, Israel is in the list of top 35 countries around the world with a significant Indian Diaspora.

Modi is expected to address 4,000 to 5,000 of these people when he holds a largescale event for their benefit Wednesday evening at the Tel Aviv fairgrounds.

One thing our prime minister likes to do is connect with Indians oversees, not just Indian nationals, but people of Indian origin, Indias ambassador to Israel, Pavan Kapoor, told The Jerusalem Post in a recent interview.

Modis logic in holding these events, he said, is that as part of his travels, he wants to connect with everyone, and there are people who obviously retain some connection with India. He wants to reach out to them and say thank you for their contribution, for the ways they are helping build relationships with other countries. He always sees these people as friends for our country.

Modi said as much last week when he met an arena full of Indians at a sports center in The Hague, where thousands of people chanted Modi, Modi, when he entered.

The embassy staff, the officials they are called Rajdoots, Modi told the crowd, representatives of the second- largest Indian population in Europe, after Britain.

But you, the Diaspora, are the Rashtradoots. Indians in Europe must be connected. Every citizen is Indias ambassador.

According to Kapoor, Modi sees Indians abroad as bridges between the countries where they are living and the country of their birth, and he would like to use the Israelis of Indian descent in a similar capacity.

Kapoor divided people of Indian origin in Israel into five different categories: the Cochin Jews; the Bene Israel; the Baghdadi Jews of Bombay and Calcutta; and the Bnei Menashe. In addition, there are about 10,000 Indians working or studying in Israel in various capacities, with 9,000 of them working in the care-giving sector.

While acknowledging that Indians in Israel are not as tied to India as are those in Britain or the US, he did say many of them are very culturally connected to the country of their birth and appreciate the Indo-Israel relationship.

The embassy is organizing the Wednesday evening event, and making buses available to transport people from all over the country from Beersheba in the South to Haifa in the North and from the large concentrations of the community in cities such as Ashdod and Jerusalem.

Noah Massil, a writer and poet in Jerusalem, immigrated to Israel from Bombay in 1970 and has been very active in the Indian scene here since.

He said he is going to Modis event for a number of reasons.

First of all, India is the only country in the world where there was never antisemitism, he said. We were there for 2,300 years and they treated us as equals. We lived there in peace.

Secondly, he said, he wants to identify with the country, to show that we, the descendants of India, have not forgotten.

Were not like many of the German Jews who hate the Germans and dont want to even buy German cars. We are the opposite. We want more contact I go there every year. We are very proud.

Finally, he said, he wants to attend the event because he likes Modi and supports his policies both inside India and the way he has opened up Indias relationship with Israel.

Another Israeli born in India, Linda Rivkind, also plans to attend the event.

Rivkind, who was born and raised in Calcutta and moved to Israel in 1971, said she has retained an emotional connection to the country so much so that she applied for Overseas Citizenship of India, a document that allows its holders visa-free travel to the country and the ability to stay there and work for any length of time.

India does not, however, allow dual citizenship, so this does not give the right to vote or the right to purchase agricultural property.

I have a few friends who are going, the Tel Aviv resident said when asked why she wanted to attend the Modi event. I want to see the atmosphere.

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Britney Spears Causes Chaos in Jerusalem – Variety

Britney Spears arrival in Israel has caused quite the commotion. Its the pop stars first visit to the country and a tour of the holy sites in Jerusalem on Sunday was described by Israeli news outlets as a veritable mob scene.

While Spears security detail was substantial, the Western Wall is mainly accessible by foot. This presented a challenge for the Make Me singer and her team as they made their way through mobs of fans, press, and onlookers (see video below).

Spears is scheduled to perform at Tel Avivs Yarkon Park on Monday night, the same outdoor venue where Justin Bieber and Aerosmith recently headlined and where Radiohead is due to take the stage on July 19.

There has also been some hubbub concerning a possible meeting with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to Ynet, Spears canceled a supposed visit, but it has also been reported that the meeting was never confirmed, a belief which the PMs office seemed to acknowledge.

Ahead of the July 3 concert, Spears will visit with pediatric cancer patients.

Prior to her Israel expedition, Spears had spent the last few weeks performing in Asia as part of her Britney: Live in Concert tour.

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Jerusalem: Jordanian MPs Call for Cancellation of Christian Endowment Sale to Israel – International Middle East Media Center

Greek Orthodox Patriarch said, in a statement, that it did not sell any lands or properties in its ownership.

Jordanian members of Parliament called on bot Jordanian and Palestinian governments to exert pressure, on the Greek Orthodox Patriarch in Jerusalem, to cancel the sale of more than 500 dunams of the Orthodox Christian endowment, in occupied Jerusalem, to the Israeli occupation municipality.

About 40 Jordanian members have criticized, according to Al Ray, the stance of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, calling, in a statement, to stop its policy of underestimating the Christian endowentment in Jerusalem. They say that the endowments are in dishonest hands.

The statement noted that they agreed with the statement of the central council and Arab Orthodox, which stressed the importance of the intervention of the Palestinian and Jordanian governments, in order to exert pressure on Patriarch Theophlos to stop the deal. The statement said that the Patriarch held a deal to sell the endowment to Zionist investors in disregard to the commitments he made in the presence of legal representatives.

They noted that this stance emerged from the moral responsibility of the parliament members and for protecting the sanctities in general, and the Orthodox Christian endowment in particular.

The statement stressed the inalienable national rights of Palestinians, noting that any attempt to abandon even a small part of the land of Palestine, in favor of the Zionists, constitutes a great betrayal to the homeland and the cause of Palestinians who still resist the occupation in order to gain independence.

the most worst thing is a clerk to betray his people who put their trust in, so that we condemn all types of waving the rights of Palestinian people.

For its part, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch said in a statement that it did not sell any lands or properties in its ownership.

It explained that the Israeli occupation has expropriated 528 dunams that were owned by the Patriarch since 1951, and that what the Patriarch did is to save its financial rights in order to maintain its presence to serve and protect its lands, property and religious sanctuaries in the Old City and the 67 areas that are threatened daily by Israeli occupation measures.

The Patriarchate said that the land was acquired in 1951 under unfair contracts that gave Israel full ownership rights , leaving to the Patriarchate only a financial rights that are determined and approved by the President of the Israeli High Court of Justice.

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Britney Spears spotted at the Western Wall – The Jerusalem Post

Singer Britney Spears arrives at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards in New York. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Pop music sensation Britney Spears was spotted at the Western Wall on Sunday, ahead of her much-anticipated Tel Aviv concert that wraps up her summer Asia tour.

Pictures showed up quickly on Twitter of Britney at the Kotel (Jerusalem, Israel) pic.twitter.com/5ZBZ8El2rt

“Ive had such an amazing time performing in Asia over these last few weeks!! One final stop in Tel Aviv on Monday!!” she wrote on Twitter on Saturday before departing for her first-ever concert in Israel.

“Tel Aviv here I come!” she wrote in the caption to a short recording addressed to Israeli entertainment reporter Guy Pines. “Hi Guy, we’re getting super close to the show now – July 3 at Park Hayarkon – I can’t wait to see you all there and hope you’re all ready to party,” she said in the clip.

Spears’s performance in Israeli will be the latest among a star-infused summer lineup that has already seen sensations such as Justin Bieber and Aerosmith and will later see Radiohead and Guns N’ Roses.

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Hundreds in Jerusalem protest bills bashing liberal Jews – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

JERUSALEM (JTA) Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Prime Ministers Residence in Jerusalem to protest against the freezing of the Western Wall agreement and the conversion bill.

The protesters who gathered in Jerusalem on Saturday night carried signs including Judaism without coercion, and We are all Women of the Wall.

The demonstration was organized by liberal movements of Judaism and the Women of the Wall organization.

We came to the Wall every month. We voted with our feet. We fought for equality. The Prime Minister understood. Thats why he initiated the negotiations. Thats why he brought the agreement to a vote. It gave us hope. Hope for democracy. Hope for the people of Israel, Anat Hoffman, chairperson of Women of the Wall, said in an address to the crowds. But suddenly, he changed his mind. Suddenly, he gave in to the ultra-orthodox. To those Jews who see themselves only. Who will keep biting and biting, whatever possible, at other peoples expense. Those who think that people who dont pray the way they do, are not Jews.

She also said: Its time for women to wake up. Its time for secular Jews to wake up. And all religious Jews like us, who believe in sharing space with everyone. Those of us who believe in equality must wake up. Because today, its the Kotel Agreement. Andtomorrowits everything else.

The demonstration began after the end of Shabbat with a Havdallah service and religious songs.

The cry from the Israeli street and from the Jewish communities cannot be underestimated, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, told the crowd.We will not allow an ultra-Orthodox monopoly in the field of conversion and we will not give up until the full implementation of the Western Wall outline is reached.

Israels Cabinet last week frozea previous government decision to expand a non-Orthodox prayer section at the Western Wall. The same day a ministerial committee approved a bill that would have made the haredi Orthodox-dominated Chief Rabbinate the only body authorized by the government to perform conversions in Israel. On Friday, the Prime Ministers Office announced that the legislation will not be considered for six months while a teamhe will appoint comes up with recommendations for an arrangement on the issue.

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Netanyahu blocks bill to prevent division of Jerusalem – The Jerusalem Post

AN AERIAL view of Jerusalems Old City and the Temple Mount.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blocked controversial legislation that would make it nearly impossible to divide Jerusalem ahead of a planned vote on Sunday.

The Prime Minister’s Office said that the reason was that Netanyahu wanted the coalition to reach a consensus on what the bill would look like rather than use a version put forward by Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi party.

In addition, the PMO pointed out that there is a Jerusalem Affairs Minister, Zeev Elkin, who has the right to be involved in the legislation.

The bill in question would require a vote of 80 MKs to approve the concession of any part of Jerusalem. Currently, a simple majority, meaning 61 MKs, is necessary.

The coalition agreement states that Basic Laws, which are meant to form an eventual constitution, and amendments to them, like this bill, may only be put forward with approval from all coalition parties. Coalition agreements are often flouted, but tend to be cited as a reason for coalition members to block other parties proposals.

Bennett said the bill sets a very high bar for dividing Jerusalem, saying that twice in the last 15 years, we were a hairs-breadth away from giving away the Temple Mount, Mount of Olives, City of David and three-quarters of the old city to the Palestinians, in the time of [former prime ministers Ehud] Barak and [Ehud] Olmert.

Netanyahu blocked the legislative process, but we are determined to pass it in three readings, and Im sure we can unite around the bill and Jerusalem, he added.

A Bayit Yehudi spokeswoman accused Netanyahu of being all talk.

Jerusalem is united through actions, not speeches, she said. Its unfortunate that narrow political issues came before preventing the division of Jerusalem.

The Likud retorted that Bayit Yehudi was trying to steal credit, and that a bill related to Jerusalem cannot be proposed without coordinating with Elkin.

Bayit Yehudi knows well that Prime Minister Netanyahu supports the bill; he already supported it in 2007, a party spokesman said. Instead of reaching agreements through cooperation, Bayit Yehudi wants to deal in petty politics. The Likud is committed to Jerusalem always staying united under Israeli sovereignty, and we wont be dragged into Bennett and Shakeds kindergarten; instead, well support the bill together with our coalition partners.

In a related development, coalition chairman David Bitan of the Likud blocked another right-wing bill, which would require the government to follow through on promises to build homes to replace ones that it demolished.

The bill was proposed by Land of Israel Caucus chairman Yoav Kisch (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) in response to the lack of tenders for 300 homes in Bet El that Netanyahu pledged five years ago to market by September.

Kischs spokesman said that Bitan removed the bill from the Ministerial Committee for Legislations agenda without consulting with him or giving any explanation.

The likely reason for the bills removal is because it would tie Netanyahus hands.

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Emboldened by Trump, Israel pushes on with East Jerusalem settlement plans – The Guardian

Israeli construction cranes and excavators at a building site of the Jewish settlement of Neve Yaakov, in the northern area of East Jerusalem. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images Israel is pushing forward with controversial plans to build 1,800 new settlement housing units in occupied East Jerusalem in the largest proposed surge in construction in recent years. The plans are expected to be considered by the Jerusalem district planning committee this month. If approved, they would mark an end to the relative slowdown in Israeli construction in the eastern parts of the city. Israels rightwing government appears to have been emboldened by the pro-Israel stance of the Trump administration, which has been far more muted in its criticism of settlements than its predecessor. When the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Donald Trump in Washington earlier this year, the US president issued a weakly-worded request that Netanyahu limit settlement activity. The disclosure of the East Jerusalem plans by the Peace Now group came as Netanyahu approved proposals to allow Israeli MPs to once again visit the flashpoint Temple Mount-Haram al-Sharif complex on a five-day trial, starting this month. Visits by MPs to the site considered the holiest in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam were banned in 2015 after a wave of Palestinian violence following claims that Israel was attempting to take control of the compound. The two issues seem likely to raise tensions once again in Jerusalem, over which Israel has claimed sovereignty since it seized the Old City and eastern neighbourhoods in 1967. Israels claim is not recognised by much of the international community. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. The construction plans include proposals for Jewish buildings, such as an eight-storey yeshiva, in Sheikh Jarrah, which Palestinians regard as being at the very heart of East Jerusalem. According to Peace Now, the plans would also involve demolishing the homes of five Palestinian families, who have had long-term tenancy rights. Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law as they are built on occupied territory. Last month, Israel began work on the first new settlement in the West Bank in 25 years to house rightwing extremist settlers expelled from the illegal out-post of Amona in February. According to official Israeli statistics the period between April 2016 and March 2017 saw a 70.4% increase in settlement housing construction in the occupied West Bank. The plans for new settlement housing in Sheikh Jarrah are likely to be the most contentious following an outcry seven years ago which prompted mass protests by activists when Palestinians were evicted in similar moves. The neighbourhood is regarded as heavy with symbolism for both sides. For Israel, it was home to a small Jewish community until 1948 when East Jerusalem came under Jordanian rule after the war that saw Israels birth. Then in the 1950s several dozen Palestinian refugee families from west Jerusalem displaced by the same war were settled there. In recent years, however, a number of these Palestinian families have been evicted as a result of Israeli court rulings to recognise pre-1948 Jewish ownership claims under laws that refuse to recognise claims made by Palestinians forced to leave west Jerusalem in similar circumstances. Peace Now and other groups condemned the plans, accusing the Israeli government of trying to destroy the two-state solution. The government is brutally attempting to destroy the possibility of the two-state solution, and this time it is by establishing a new settlement at the heart of a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem and promoting nearly 1,800 housing units beyond the Green Line, they said in a statement. The eviction of five Palestinian families, which are protected tenants, in order to establish a new settlement in Sheikh Jarrah shows that nothing will get in the way of settler groups and a pro-settler government from preventing a future compromise in Jerusalem.

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Jerusalem Youth Peace Summit Opens with Interfaith Prayer – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: Scholas Occurentes 75 Jewish, Christian, and Muslim youth from around the world gathered at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Sunday for a unique summit, answering Pope Francis call to create a culture of encounter for peace. Students ages 15 and 16 from Argentina, Brazil, Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Mexico, and Spain joined their Israeli Jewish and Arab counterparts for 4 days of learning through arts, sports, technology, and living together. At the opening ceremony, young people expressed their hopes for peace through a variety of artistic presentations. Students from Burundi and Congo performed a song in Swahili; students from Beit Hanina performed Imagine by John Lennon; and students from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance sang of peace in Hebrew. Three senior religions leaders, representing the three Abrahamic faiths, gave opening benedictions as part of an interreligious prayer for peace: Kadi Iyad Zahalka, The Kadi of Jerusalem and the Head of the Sharia Courts of Israel; His Eminence Mons; Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Nuncio to Israel; and Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Dov Rosen, the Rabbi of Yakar Congregation in Jerusalem. Yakar, founded by the children of the late Yaacov Kopul Rosen, founder of Carmel College in Notting Hill, London, encourages interfaith meetings between Orthodox Jews and non-Jewish persons of faith. The summit, July 2 to 5, 2017, is co-organized by the Pontifical Scholas Occurrentes and the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University. Within the framework of this gathering, two major events are taking place: Scholas Chairs International Congress 2017: Between University and School Peacebuilding through Culture of Encounter and Interreligious Citizenship Encounter. The closing ceremony on Wednesday, July 5, is expected to include greetings from Pope Francis, together with the planting of an olive tree for peace in his name, as students describe their experiences and present their works of art and their social projects. Speaking at a meeting with leaders of Scholas and the Hebrew University at his residence on February 7, Pope Francis said: Religion can bring us together and teach us to create the bonds of friendship. With the intuition of Scholas and the intelligence and history of the Hebrew University, I am sure that this will produce great changes in the world.

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Forced to sign waiver to use ritual bath alone, some Jerusalem women fear coercion – The Times of Israel

Lea was standing in only a towel when the ritual bath attendant barred the 32-year-olds way, saying she must fill out a waiver before entering the water alone. Feeling vulnerable and unable to collect herself, Lea waited for the woman to go out and fetch the form, and, still clad only in a towel, wrote in her personal information and signed it. In any other condition, the religious feminist in me would have taken over and I would have protested, Lea says. But when youre in the moment youll agree to anything they say. Its a problem confronting an increasing number of women in the Jerusalem area since a Supreme Court ruling last year granted women the right to refuse the supervision of an attendant, known as a balanit, when immersing in the mikva, or ritual bath. Until this ruling, the presence of the balanit during the immersion process was mandatory for women. The issue of female ritual immersion is an extremely personal one: It revolves around the menstruation cycle and directly impacts whether a husband and wife are allowed to have sexual relations under Jewish law. As such it is a subject that is referred to very delicately among religious circles, if at all. (While some men also choose to ritually purify themselves, male immersion in the mikva does not usually carry the halachic urgency of female immersion.) Ritual baths operating under the auspices of local religious councils throughout the country have, for the most part, been accommodating since the Supreme Court ruling. But the conservative-leaning Jerusalem Religious Council requires women who enter the water alone to fill out a paper form with their name and personal identification number. According to the Jerusalem council, the form absolves it of responsibility should anything happen when the woman is alone in the water. Councils in other municipalities do not require such a form. Illustrative: Mikvah immersion with a balanit. (Mayyim Hayyim/Tom Kates via JTA) While it is technically within the confines of halacha for a woman to dip alone, stringencies recommend that she do it in the presence of the balanit, who can ensure that she is entirely under the water. This has led some to feel that the waiver carries with it undertones of religious coercion. I told the balanit, I understand that its now okay for me to do this without you, and Id like to do it, so how does that work? says Lea. And she was like, No, what do you need to do that for, you know its better to dip with a balanit, its not halachic to do otherwise. And I replied, Actually, I know the halacha and Id like to do it this way. So she said okay, but that I needed to sign a form. A pending lawsuit initiated by ITIM, a nonprofit organization that assists and advocates for people navigating their way through religious bureaucracy in Israel, claims that not only are the waivers noncompliant with the Supreme Courts ruling, they arent legally binding in the first place. They do not understand that they must respect the dignity of women coming to immerse The religious principles of modesty and kavod habriyot [respecting the needs of others] apply to all segments of Israeli society and this is not clear to the Jerusalem Religious Council, says Rabbi Dr. Seth Farber, director of ITIM. They do not understand that they must respect the dignity of women coming to immerse, their modesty, privacy and peace of mind. Mikva immersion shouldnt be fraught with tension but rather a positive and personal experience. This is how it is characterized in the halachic tradition. Unfortunately, Farber continues, in some mikvaot in Israel, people are made to feel unwelcome. This will have to change. We will continue to support womens rights in mikvaot and if necessary, turn to the legal system to force the issue. Rabbi Dr. Seth Farber, director of ITIM. (Courtesy) Attorney Asher Axelrod, who represents the Jerusalem Religious Council, says that the waivers are an issue of liability alone. How do you expect that someone should insist on entering the water unsupervised and the council should still be responsible? he says. This is a simple matter of responsibility for potential damages and not a halachic question at all. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Religious Services sees where both parties are coming from. Illustrative: Activists protesting for mikva reform in Jerusalem, March 13, 2016. (Michal Smith Hazan/JTA) The ministry understands why the Jerusalem Religious Council feels the need for these forms, says Shlomi Naki. But given the decision of the Supreme Court, it is legally problematic. The ministry would like to see a solution that can accommodate both sides. Dr. Naomi Marmon Grumet, founder of the Eden Center in Jerusalem which trains female mikva attendants, is more vocal in her opposition to the waivers. This is obviously something that is making women feel very uncomfortable. They are coming there out of their free will to use the mikva, and now that she has the legal protection to use the mikva without an attendant, there should be no reason whatsoever for a woman to sign a waiver, she says. Ive never seen a waiver for a man who goes to the mikva where there is no male attendant Whats more, Marmon Grumet continues, Ive never seen a waiver for a man who goes to the mikva where there is no male attendant, so there should be no difference between a woman using a mikva and a man using a mikva without an attendant. Its a discrimination claim Axelrod was prepared to defend preemptively. [The Supreme Court ruling] creates a problem that doesnt exist for men because the balan [male attendant] is always there and he is responsible. If a woman goes in without supervision, she takes responsibility upon herself in case something happens. But men never request this. If a man were to request such a thing, he would be required to sign the form there is no scenario in which a man could enter the mikva and immerse alone, he says. A mikvah. (Illustrative photo credit: CC-BY-SA Tamar Hayardeni/Wikimedia Commons) I do not think that is the case, says Marmon Grumet. I dont frequent mens mikvaot. There is a balan hes not usually there when men come in. I dont know if there are hours for the mens mikva, I believe you can just come in at any time. Ive never seen or heard that there is a balan. Im curious to go right now to the mens mikva and see if theres a balan there. Several male mikva-goers contacted for the purpose of this story say that they almost never encounter a balan during their aquatic excursions though there are almost always other men there and it is not clear whether the mikvaot they frequent are under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem Religious Council. The women have a choice. Either they can dip with an attendant or they can fill out the form There are numerous private mikvaot utilized by men and women that are not subject to the regulations imposed on public ones, though they are more costly. The women have a choice, says Axelrod. Either they can dip with an attendant or they can fill out the form. Its either one or the other. No one is forcing them to come to the mikva in the first place. Because marriage in Israel is performed exclusively through the Chief Rabbinate, ceremonies for Jews of all denominations conform to Orthodox halacha. One of the prerequisites is that brides-to-be must visit a mikva and provide written documentation to the effect that they immersed and are now ritually permissible to their future husbands. Illustrative: Male use of the mikvah is not new. Many dunk ahead of weddings, feast days, and even Shabbat. (Courtesy of Mayyim Hayyim/via JTA) The Eden Center estimates that 30,000 women visit the mikva regularly in the Jerusalem area, and that 750,000 go nationwide. Most of those who immerse each month are religious, though some less-observant women cherish the ritual as well and it has long been a symbol connecting families to Jewish tradition. For some, it is a choice they make to indulge their more religious partners. Whatever their reasons for visiting the ritual bath, for many people, the exact halachic requirements are somewhat murky. A telephone receptionist for the Ministry of Religious Services was surprised that anyone would make the choice to enter the water in private, though she was more than happy to help find a Ministry spokesperson. Why would someone want to do that? That sounds strange to me, she volunteered, when informed of the purpose of the call. The woman needs a balanit there to make sure her immersion was kosher. Israeli Minister of Religious Services David Azulay visits a luxury mikva. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

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Modi to hold mass rally for Indians in Israel – The Jerusalem Post

With an estimated 31 million India-born people living abroad either temporarily or permanently, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi views the Indian Diaspora as a significant and valuable diplomatic asset. This is why he makes it a point to hold large, often times rock-concert like events with people of Indian origin when he travels abroad. He has done this on his travels to the United States, where in 2014 he attracted 19,000 people to Madison Square Garden in New York; to Britain; Australia; the United Arab Emirates; and just last week during a trip to the Netherlands, where he stopped on his way home from visiting the US and Portugal. Modi will keep this practice alive when he arrives in Israel this week for the first ever visit of an Indian prime minister. Israel, obviously, cannot compete with countries like the US, which has an estimated 4.5 million Indian-born people living there; or Saudi Arabia, with 4.1 million; the United Arab Emirates with 3.8 million; or the United Kingdom, with 1.8 million. Still, with an estimated 80,000- 85,0000 non-resident Indians or persons of Indian origin, Israel is in the list of top 35 countries around the world with a significant Indian Diaspora. Modi is expected to address 4,000 to 5,000 of these people when he holds a largescale event for their benefit Wednesday evening at the Tel Aviv fairgrounds. One thing our prime minister likes to do is connect with Indians oversees, not just Indian nationals, but people of Indian origin, Indias ambassador to Israel, Pavan Kapoor, told The Jerusalem Post in a recent interview. Modis logic in holding these events, he said, is that as part of his travels, he wants to connect with everyone, and there are people who obviously retain some connection with India. He wants to reach out to them and say thank you for their contribution, for the ways they are helping build relationships with other countries. He always sees these people as friends for our country. Modi said as much last week when he met an arena full of Indians at a sports center in The Hague, where thousands of people chanted Modi, Modi, when he entered. The embassy staff, the officials they are called Rajdoots, Modi told the crowd, representatives of the second- largest Indian population in Europe, after Britain. But you, the Diaspora, are the Rashtradoots. Indians in Europe must be connected. Every citizen is Indias ambassador. According to Kapoor, Modi sees Indians abroad as bridges between the countries where they are living and the country of their birth, and he would like to use the Israelis of Indian descent in a similar capacity. Kapoor divided people of Indian origin in Israel into five different categories: the Cochin Jews; the Bene Israel; the Baghdadi Jews of Bombay and Calcutta; and the Bnei Menashe. In addition, there are about 10,000 Indians working or studying in Israel in various capacities, with 9,000 of them working in the care-giving sector. While acknowledging that Indians in Israel are not as tied to India as are those in Britain or the US, he did say many of them are very culturally connected to the country of their birth and appreciate the Indo-Israel relationship. The embassy is organizing the Wednesday evening event, and making buses available to transport people from all over the country from Beersheba in the South to Haifa in the North and from the large concentrations of the community in cities such as Ashdod and Jerusalem. Noah Massil, a writer and poet in Jerusalem, immigrated to Israel from Bombay in 1970 and has been very active in the Indian scene here since. He said he is going to Modis event for a number of reasons. First of all, India is the only country in the world where there was never antisemitism, he said. We were there for 2,300 years and they treated us as equals. We lived there in peace. Secondly, he said, he wants to identify with the country, to show that we, the descendants of India, have not forgotten. Were not like many of the German Jews who hate the Germans and dont want to even buy German cars. We are the opposite. We want more contact I go there every year. We are very proud. Finally, he said, he wants to attend the event because he likes Modi and supports his policies both inside India and the way he has opened up Indias relationship with Israel. Another Israeli born in India, Linda Rivkind, also plans to attend the event. Rivkind, who was born and raised in Calcutta and moved to Israel in 1971, said she has retained an emotional connection to the country so much so that she applied for Overseas Citizenship of India, a document that allows its holders visa-free travel to the country and the ability to stay there and work for any length of time. India does not, however, allow dual citizenship, so this does not give the right to vote or the right to purchase agricultural property. I have a few friends who are going, the Tel Aviv resident said when asked why she wanted to attend the Modi event. I want to see the atmosphere. Share on facebook

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Britney Spears Causes Chaos in Jerusalem – Variety

Britney Spears arrival in Israel has caused quite the commotion. Its the pop stars first visit to the country and a tour of the holy sites in Jerusalem on Sunday was described by Israeli news outlets as a veritable mob scene. While Spears security detail was substantial, the Western Wall is mainly accessible by foot. This presented a challenge for the Make Me singer and her team as they made their way through mobs of fans, press, and onlookers (see video below). Spears is scheduled to perform at Tel Avivs Yarkon Park on Monday night, the same outdoor venue where Justin Bieber and Aerosmith recently headlined and where Radiohead is due to take the stage on July 19. There has also been some hubbub concerning a possible meeting with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to Ynet, Spears canceled a supposed visit, but it has also been reported that the meeting was never confirmed, a belief which the PMs office seemed to acknowledge. Ahead of the July 3 concert, Spears will visit with pediatric cancer patients. Prior to her Israel expedition, Spears had spent the last few weeks performing in Asia as part of her Britney: Live in Concert tour.

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Jerusalem: Jordanian MPs Call for Cancellation of Christian Endowment Sale to Israel – International Middle East Media Center

Greek Orthodox Patriarch said, in a statement, that it did not sell any lands or properties in its ownership. Jordanian members of Parliament called on bot Jordanian and Palestinian governments to exert pressure, on the Greek Orthodox Patriarch in Jerusalem, to cancel the sale of more than 500 dunams of the Orthodox Christian endowment, in occupied Jerusalem, to the Israeli occupation municipality. About 40 Jordanian members have criticized, according to Al Ray, the stance of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, calling, in a statement, to stop its policy of underestimating the Christian endowentment in Jerusalem. They say that the endowments are in dishonest hands. The statement noted that they agreed with the statement of the central council and Arab Orthodox, which stressed the importance of the intervention of the Palestinian and Jordanian governments, in order to exert pressure on Patriarch Theophlos to stop the deal. The statement said that the Patriarch held a deal to sell the endowment to Zionist investors in disregard to the commitments he made in the presence of legal representatives. They noted that this stance emerged from the moral responsibility of the parliament members and for protecting the sanctities in general, and the Orthodox Christian endowment in particular. The statement stressed the inalienable national rights of Palestinians, noting that any attempt to abandon even a small part of the land of Palestine, in favor of the Zionists, constitutes a great betrayal to the homeland and the cause of Palestinians who still resist the occupation in order to gain independence. the most worst thing is a clerk to betray his people who put their trust in, so that we condemn all types of waving the rights of Palestinian people. For its part, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch said in a statement that it did not sell any lands or properties in its ownership. It explained that the Israeli occupation has expropriated 528 dunams that were owned by the Patriarch since 1951, and that what the Patriarch did is to save its financial rights in order to maintain its presence to serve and protect its lands, property and religious sanctuaries in the Old City and the 67 areas that are threatened daily by Israeli occupation measures. The Patriarchate said that the land was acquired in 1951 under unfair contracts that gave Israel full ownership rights , leaving to the Patriarchate only a financial rights that are determined and approved by the President of the Israeli High Court of Justice.

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Britney Spears spotted at the Western Wall – The Jerusalem Post

Singer Britney Spears arrives at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards in New York. (photo credit:REUTERS) Pop music sensation Britney Spears was spotted at the Western Wall on Sunday, ahead of her much-anticipated Tel Aviv concert that wraps up her summer Asia tour. Pictures showed up quickly on Twitter of Britney at the Kotel (Jerusalem, Israel) pic.twitter.com/5ZBZ8El2rt “Ive had such an amazing time performing in Asia over these last few weeks!! One final stop in Tel Aviv on Monday!!” she wrote on Twitter on Saturday before departing for her first-ever concert in Israel. “Tel Aviv here I come!” she wrote in the caption to a short recording addressed to Israeli entertainment reporter Guy Pines. “Hi Guy, we’re getting super close to the show now – July 3 at Park Hayarkon – I can’t wait to see you all there and hope you’re all ready to party,” she said in the clip. Spears’s performance in Israeli will be the latest among a star-infused summer lineup that has already seen sensations such as Justin Bieber and Aerosmith and will later see Radiohead and Guns N’ Roses. Share on facebook

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Hundreds in Jerusalem protest bills bashing liberal Jews – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

JERUSALEM (JTA) Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Prime Ministers Residence in Jerusalem to protest against the freezing of the Western Wall agreement and the conversion bill. The protesters who gathered in Jerusalem on Saturday night carried signs including Judaism without coercion, and We are all Women of the Wall. The demonstration was organized by liberal movements of Judaism and the Women of the Wall organization. We came to the Wall every month. We voted with our feet. We fought for equality. The Prime Minister understood. Thats why he initiated the negotiations. Thats why he brought the agreement to a vote. It gave us hope. Hope for democracy. Hope for the people of Israel, Anat Hoffman, chairperson of Women of the Wall, said in an address to the crowds. But suddenly, he changed his mind. Suddenly, he gave in to the ultra-orthodox. To those Jews who see themselves only. Who will keep biting and biting, whatever possible, at other peoples expense. Those who think that people who dont pray the way they do, are not Jews. She also said: Its time for women to wake up. Its time for secular Jews to wake up. And all religious Jews like us, who believe in sharing space with everyone. Those of us who believe in equality must wake up. Because today, its the Kotel Agreement. Andtomorrowits everything else. The demonstration began after the end of Shabbat with a Havdallah service and religious songs. The cry from the Israeli street and from the Jewish communities cannot be underestimated, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, told the crowd.We will not allow an ultra-Orthodox monopoly in the field of conversion and we will not give up until the full implementation of the Western Wall outline is reached. Israels Cabinet last week frozea previous government decision to expand a non-Orthodox prayer section at the Western Wall. The same day a ministerial committee approved a bill that would have made the haredi Orthodox-dominated Chief Rabbinate the only body authorized by the government to perform conversions in Israel. On Friday, the Prime Ministers Office announced that the legislation will not be considered for six months while a teamhe will appoint comes up with recommendations for an arrangement on the issue.

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Netanyahu blocks bill to prevent division of Jerusalem – The Jerusalem Post

AN AERIAL view of Jerusalems Old City and the Temple Mount.. (photo credit:REUTERS) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blocked controversial legislation that would make it nearly impossible to divide Jerusalem ahead of a planned vote on Sunday. The Prime Minister’s Office said that the reason was that Netanyahu wanted the coalition to reach a consensus on what the bill would look like rather than use a version put forward by Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi party. In addition, the PMO pointed out that there is a Jerusalem Affairs Minister, Zeev Elkin, who has the right to be involved in the legislation. The bill in question would require a vote of 80 MKs to approve the concession of any part of Jerusalem. Currently, a simple majority, meaning 61 MKs, is necessary. The coalition agreement states that Basic Laws, which are meant to form an eventual constitution, and amendments to them, like this bill, may only be put forward with approval from all coalition parties. Coalition agreements are often flouted, but tend to be cited as a reason for coalition members to block other parties proposals. Bennett said the bill sets a very high bar for dividing Jerusalem, saying that twice in the last 15 years, we were a hairs-breadth away from giving away the Temple Mount, Mount of Olives, City of David and three-quarters of the old city to the Palestinians, in the time of [former prime ministers Ehud] Barak and [Ehud] Olmert. Netanyahu blocked the legislative process, but we are determined to pass it in three readings, and Im sure we can unite around the bill and Jerusalem, he added. A Bayit Yehudi spokeswoman accused Netanyahu of being all talk. Jerusalem is united through actions, not speeches, she said. Its unfortunate that narrow political issues came before preventing the division of Jerusalem. The Likud retorted that Bayit Yehudi was trying to steal credit, and that a bill related to Jerusalem cannot be proposed without coordinating with Elkin. Bayit Yehudi knows well that Prime Minister Netanyahu supports the bill; he already supported it in 2007, a party spokesman said. Instead of reaching agreements through cooperation, Bayit Yehudi wants to deal in petty politics. The Likud is committed to Jerusalem always staying united under Israeli sovereignty, and we wont be dragged into Bennett and Shakeds kindergarten; instead, well support the bill together with our coalition partners. In a related development, coalition chairman David Bitan of the Likud blocked another right-wing bill, which would require the government to follow through on promises to build homes to replace ones that it demolished. The bill was proposed by Land of Israel Caucus chairman Yoav Kisch (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) in response to the lack of tenders for 300 homes in Bet El that Netanyahu pledged five years ago to market by September. Kischs spokesman said that Bitan removed the bill from the Ministerial Committee for Legislations agenda without consulting with him or giving any explanation. The likely reason for the bills removal is because it would tie Netanyahus hands. Share on facebook

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