Two Jerusalem organizations have sent a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, reminding him that discussions with US President Bush or PA Chairman Abbas regarding a possible division of Jerusalem are in violation of Israeli law.
A prominent lawyer for the Victims of Arab Terror (VAT) and Twenty-Four Shifts organizations penned the letter, warning Olmert that if he does not announce an end to all talks over the future of Jerusalem, he will be considered in violation of the law.
In his letter, Attorney Baruch Ben-Yosef makes the point that Clauses 5 and 6 of one of Israel’s cardinal laws – Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel – mean that Jerusalem’s status as the united and sole capital of Israel may not be compromised.
The first clause of the law in question, passed in 1980 under Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Yitzchak Navon, states, “Jerusalem, whole and united, is the capital of Israel.” Clause 5 stipulates the precise area of Jerusalem, while Clause 6 states, “No authorities relating to the area of Jerusalem and that is in the legal purview of the State of Israel or the Municipality of Jerusalem shall be transferred to any foreign political or governmental element, whether permanently or for a set period.”
Clause 7 states that Clauses and 5 and 6 may not be changed except if another Basic Law is accepted by the majority of the Knesset.
The Warning to Olmert
“According to frequently-published statements by you and some of the ministers in your government,” the letter to Olmert states, “you intend to negotiate with Israel’s enemies – including Mr. Abu Mazen, the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority – regarding the re-division of Jerusalem and the ceding of parts of the city – in violation of Clauses 5 and 6 of this law.”
“The very mention of dividing the city and giving up parts of it, while the Basic Law on Jerusalem is still in effect and/or Clauses 5-6 have not been nullified, is a violation of the Basic Law. If you wish to hold negotiations with a foreign element, and especially with an enemy of Israel such as Abu Mazen, then you must act in accordance with the law’s Clause 7 – i.e., nullifying and/or changing [Clauses 5 and 6] via a majority vote in the Knesset.”
Attorney Ben-Yosef explains why his warning is timely: “Given that you and/or ministers in your government are liable to wage such negotiations during and after the visit of US President Bush, you are hereby required to declare immediately that you will observe the Basic Law and that you will not wage any negotiations over the future of Jerusalem while the above law and/or its clauses are still in effect.”
“If by next Sunday, the 28th of Tevet 5768 (January 6), I do not receive this declaration by return email, my clients will act immediately to obtain a court order preventing you from waging such negotiations.”