Protesters Call on Israel to Annex Settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim, Near Jerusalem

Demonstrators outside Knesset, including four lawmakers, demand Israeli sovereignty be declared over the West Bank settlement without delay.

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Ma'aleh Adumim demo
MKs Bezalel Smotrich (holding microphone) and Ayoub Kara, together with Ma'aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel (right) at Monday's demonstration outside the Knesset.Credit: Lior Mizrahi

Dozens of residents of Ma’aleh Adumim demonstrated outside the Knesset on Monday, calling on parliament to declare sovereignty over the settlement without delay.

The protesters, who were joined by a number of Knesset members, demanded that parliament enact a law annexing Ma’aleh Adumim, which is near Jerusalem in the West Bank, before the present Knesset session ends.

Among the lawmakers joining the demonstration were Yoav Kish and Oren Hazan (Likud), Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) and Eli Cohen (Kulanu) party. The three parties are a part of the governing coalition.

“Ma’aleh Adumim is in the Land of Israel,” said Cohen. “The Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel. We are a democratic country and 90 percent of the people of Israel want sovereignty by the Israeli people. Eighty Knesset members say sovereignty should be applied to Ma’aleh Adumim. So it should be done.”

“There’s an international battle over Jerusalem,” said another participant in the protest, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud). “Some people think the answer to UNESCO [which passed an anti-Israel resolution two weeks ago, ignoring the Jewish connection to Temple Mount] should be confined to the public-relations front. But there is a more powerful answer – sovereignty. Sovereignty over Ma’aleh Adumim is a statement that Jerusalem will remain united.

Demonstrators outside the Knesset on Monday in favor of annexing the West Bank settlement Ma'aleh Adumim hold aloft a poster quoting Shimon Peres.Credit: Lior Mizrahi

Also featured at Monday’s demonstration was Social Affairs Minister Haim Katz, who undertook to do everything in his power to apply Israeli sovereignty to the town. “There are talkers and there are doers,” Katz said. “We are on the side of the doers, lest we be on the side of the ones who have to explain [inaction]. As my mother would say – if you have to explain, it’s a sign you failed. So I promise.”

Coalition whip David Bitan, another MK involved in the protest outside the parliament building in which he himself sits, also vowed to take action to apply Israeli sovereignty to Ma’aleh Adumim. Despite international pressure including from the United States and Europe, “There is no reason why Ma’aleh Adumim shouldn’t expand,” Bitan said – and vowed, “We will start with Ma’aleh Adumim and continue to all of Judea and Samaria.”

Earlier this week people from the Ma’aleh Adumim municipality and the Council of Jewish Settlements in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District (Yesha Council) launched a campaign in favor of annexing the town. Billboards were hung in Jerusalem featuring the faces and quotes from Israeli dignitaries who support Ma’aleh Adumim’s development.

One such was none other than the recently deceased former president Shimon Peres, with the quote “Developing Ma’aleh Adumim will assure the safety of Jerusalem.” Peres’ family however objects to the campaign. His son-in-law, Rafi Valdan, told Army Radio on Sunday that the campaign is “a crass gambit by a crook of an advertising agent.”