The Knesset passed the first reading of a bill initiated by Likud Knesset Member Gideon Sa'ar, which requires a two-thirds majority of Knesset Members (MKs) to change the status of Jerusalem.The bad news? This bill still has a ways to go before becoming law.
Currently, it would take 61 of the 120 MKs to change the Basic Law: Jerusalem, which annexed Jerusalem's eastern neighborhoods and the Old City to the capital.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has floated the idea of surrendering parts of the capital to the Palestinian Authority (PA), which demands the entire area of Jerusalem liberated in the 1967 Six-Day War.
The vote in favor of the bill was 54-24, but it must be approved by a committee and pass two more Knesset votes before becoming law. A growing number of Knesset members in Prime Minister Olmert's own Kadima party are against his plan to split Jerusalem. Olmert's close confidant and aide Vice Prime Minister Chaim Ramon has openly promoted handing over parts of the capital to the PA.
And, unfortunately, the Knesset has ignored its own laws before. I recently blogged about a 1977 law that makes giving land away a grave crime, and it was clearly never enforced during Camp David or Oslo.
So while it is a good sign, Israel needs to be far more forceful about its rights to Jerusalem.