Published: 2017-10-29 19:38
Last Updated: 2017-10-29 19:38
Following international pressure, Israel has delayed a bill that would annex illegal Jewish settlements inside the occupied West Bank to the Israeli-defined boundaries of Jerusalem, adding 140,000 Israelis to the city's population.
The so-called “Greater Jerusalem” bill was intended to be voted on by a ministerial committee on Sunday before going to the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, for approval.
It would place the three major Israeli settlements of Maale Adumim, Givat Zeev and Gush Etzion, which together houses around 140,000 Israelis, under the jurisdiction of Jerusalem’s municipality.
This would add the 14,000 Israelis to the population of Jerusalem, allowing them to vote in local elections. The bill would also create "independent municipalities" for several Palestinian neighbourhoods, housing at least 100,000 people, that are in the Jerusalem municipality but seperated from the city by Israel's separation wall.
The purpose of the bill would be to ensure a Jewish majority in the city of Jerusalem, of which Palestinians Arabs make up 40%.
"The government will approve the Greater Jerusalem law that will strengthen the eternal capital Jerusalem - demographically and geographically," Yoav Kish, the Knesset member who submitted the proposal for the bill, said on Twitter last week.
"It is an unequivocal response to all those in the international community who are questioning the Jewish people's right to Jerusalem," Al Jazeera reported Katz as stating.
While the Israeli government did not disclose why the vote was postponed, Israeli daily Haaretz spoke to an Israeli official who claimed the bill's current version "invites international pressure and involves difficult legal issues".
Likud lawmaker David Bitan, chairman of Netanyahu’s coalition in parliament, told Army Radio that the vote would be delayed after pressure from Washington.
“There is American pressure that claims this is about annexation and that this could interfere with the peace process,” Bitan told Army Radio.
“The prime minister doesn’t think this is about annexation. I don’t think so either. We have to take the time to clarify matters to the Americans. Therefore, if the bill passes in a week, or in a month, it’s less problematic,” he said.
Some 500,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, which is home to more than 2.6 million Palestinians.