Bill to Annex West Bank Settlement to Be Voted on After Trump's Inauguration

Coalition hasn’t decided whether to back or kill bill to annex Ma’aleh Adumim; Netanyahu may delay proposal until relations with new administration consolidate.

MK Bezalel Smotrich at a protest with Ma’aleh Adumim residents, October 2016.
Lior Mizrahi

Two days after Donald Trump is sworn in as U.S. president on Friday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation will consider a bill to annex the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

MKs Yoav Kish (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi), who head the Knesset’s Land of Israel caucus, said they decided to raise the bill immediately after the presidential transition in the United States because they believe the incoming administration will have a significantly different attitude than its predecessors to Israeli control over West Bank territories.

Sources involved in the ministerial committee’s work confirmed that the controversial bill is set to be discussed on Sunday, but it’s not yet clear whether the coalition will back it or kill it. Ma’aleh Adumim is one of the settlement blocs that Israel seeks to keep under any agreement with the Palestinians.

A senior Likud source told Haaretz he finds it hard to believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “would provoke Trump with a bill that’s liable to foment such substantive change in the region just two days after he enters office. It’s reasonable to assume the proposal will ultimately wait until relations with the new administration have been consolidated to some extent.”

A Likud cabinet minister added that the party’s ministers haven’t yet met to discuss whether to approve the bill or reject it on Sunday.

Kish said that “If anyone thinks applying sovereignty to Ma’aleh Adumim is an obstacle to peace, I don’t want such a peace. We use the term ‘applying sovereignty,’ not ‘annexation.’ We’re applying sovereignty to what is ours.”

“I believe this is a gift the people of Israel deserve in honor of President Trump’s swearing-in and a needed change in policy in Judea and Samaria,” Smotrich added, referring to the West Bank by its Hebrew name.