Vote on Bill to Annex West Bank Settlement Postponed at Netanyahu's Request

This latest postponement wasn’t the first time the prime minister foiled discussion of the bill – the last time was on the eve of his meeting with President Donald Trump in February.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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A view of the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim is seen near Jerusalem.
A view of the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim is seen near Jerusalem.Credit: Reuters
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Israeli lawmakers have decided to postpone Sunday's planned vote on a bill to annex the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim, following a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The bill calls for applying Israeli law to Ma'aleh Adumim, near Jerusalem, and will also include a clause annexing the controversial E-1 area, as a result of its inclusion in the settlement’s municipal boundaries.

The bill's sponsor, MK Yoav Kish (Likud), and Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi), who together head the Knesset’s Land of Israel caucus, said Friday morning that the postponement was carried out due to a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and that they intend to raise the matter at the next Ministerial Committee for Legislation meeting.

This latest postponement wasn’t the first time Netanyahu foiled discussion of the bill. On the eve of his trip to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington last month, he prevented the bill from reaching the committee, for fear it would harm relations with the new U.S. administration.

"It's possible that as part of a compromise we'll agree to pass the bill without E-1," Kish told Haaretz this week. "I don't want someone to say he won't join the process because [it means Israeli] sovereignty will apply to E-1."

The area in question is 12 square kilometers (4.6 square miles) northwest of Ma'aleh Adumim. The international community, especially previous U.S. administrations, have objected to its annexation as it will cut the north of the West Bank from its south and make it impossible to establish a contiguous Palestinian state.

Consequently, all construction plans for this area have been delayed for diplomatic and political reasons since 2005.

Ma'aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel launched a campaign Wednesday intended to pressure ministers to support legislation to annex the town. Kashriel and youths have given out the telephone numbers of members of the key legislative committee to passersby, urging them to text the ministers and ask them to "Vote for sovereignty in Ma'aleh Adumim."

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