Israeli Ministers Set to Vote on Annexing West Bank Settlements to Jerusalem

Backed by Netanyahu, bill would redraw map to include settlements in Jerusalem proper. Palestinians likely to see move as beginning of creeping annexation of West Bank land

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, October 24, 2017.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, October 24, 2017. Olivier Fitoussi

Ministers will vote Sunday on annexing Israeli local authorities beyond the Green Line to Jerusalem following several long delays. The bill is expected to win the support of the panel and be sent to the Knesset floor for approval.

Cabinet ministers were told Wednesday that the so-called "Greater Jerusalem Bill" will be brought to a vote at Sunday's meeting of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who previously delayed the vote on the bill, initially agreed to promote it in July following an attack on the Temple Mount that killed two police officers. But the bill never made it to the panel for a vote.

According to the bill, the settlements of Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar Illit and Givat Ze'ev will be included under Jerusalem's municipal jurisdiction, but not officially annexed to Israel.

Netanyahu touring the Ma'ale Adumim settlement near Jerusalem, October, 2017.
Kobi Gideon / GPO

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The move is expected to spark strong opposition from the Palestinian Authority, which will see it as part of the de-facto creeping annexation of West Bank territory.

The proposed bill was submitted by MK Yoav Kish (Likud) with the support of Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud), who also holds the Intelligence Affairs portfolio.

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Katz in the past said that the move would add thousands of residents to Jerusalem and would "weaken the Arab hold on the capital." Estimates in the Likud party is that Netanyahu allowed the bill to move forward to receive support from his right-wing voter "base" ahead of possible general election in the first half of 2018.

"The Greater Jerusalem Bill is an extremely important bill," Kish said, adding that it "enshrines Jerusalem's status as the eternal capital of the people of Israel and the Jewish majority in the capital."

Kish noted that, under the bill, "Jerusalem's jurisdiction will be expanded [to include] additional communities, while maintaining municipal autonomy for the local authorities."