United Torah Judaism opposes the current version of the “Greater Jerusalem Law,” and is planning to torpedo it in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation next week, Israel Radio reported Thursday.
The bill will be put to a vote in a Knesset Committee on Sunday.
The Greater Jerusalem Law, submitted by MK Yoav Kisch (Likud) calls for applying Israeli sovereignty over all the towns and villages in the vicinity of Jerusalem, including the Gush Etzion communities, Ma’aleh Adumim, Givat Ze’ev and Beitar Illit.
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and MK Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism announced they would oppose the bill, essentially because it would add to the voter rolls of the Israeli capital tens of thousands of newcomers, most of whom would likely not be Haredim – thus eroding UTJ’s power in city hall.
The bill’s explanatory notes state that “in recent years, against the backdrop of demographic, cultural and political developments, Jerusalem’s status as the most important city in Israel has been weakened, and the city is being abandoned by its more affluent population which is moving to the coastal cities. The proposed law will enable changing this trend, restoring Jerusalem’s status as a symbol and the heart of the Jewish people.”
The bill’s supporters also argue that municipal annexation of nearby settlements “will add to Jerusalem a population that will maintain a demographic balance” – code for more Jewish votes against a growing Arab population.
At the same time, the wording of the proposed law also permit the settlements in question to “preserve a certain degree of autonomy,” and they will be considered satellite municipalities of Jerusalem.
The Minister of the Interior will determine the division of municipal authority between the Jerusalem municipality and its satellites.