Israeli Ministers To Vote On Annexing West Bank Settlements To Jerusalem, Paying Palestinians To Emigrate

by Bamidele Ogunberu Posted on October 25th, 2017

Jerusalem, Israel: Israeli Ministers will on Sunday, vote on Annexing West Bank Settlements beyond the Green Line to Jerusalem and paying Palestinians to emigrate according to local media. Backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the bill would redraw map to include settlements in Jerusalem proper.

During a visit to the settlement city of Ma’ale Adumim, east of Jerusalem, Netanyahu declared, sitting next to Ma’ale Adumim mayor Benny Kashriel at a Likud party faction meeting:

“I support this law of Greater Jerusalem, which will enable Jerusalem and its communities to develop in many aspects. This is a great and important news,”.

The legislation to which he was referring to was proposed by Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz and fellow Likud MK Yoav Kisch, and seeks to extend the capital’s municipal boundaries. If passed into law, the residents of settlements including Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, Beitar Illit, Efrat and the Etzion Bloc would be able to vote in Jerusalem municipal elections.

These localities would “become part of Greater Metropolitan Jerusalem. Similar to Greater London and Greater Paris,” Kisch told The Times of Israel.

A separate, new municipal structure, meanwhile would be created for the Arab villages surrounding Jerusalem.

The move would make Jerusalem’s official demographic balance significantly more Jewish and would “bring back Jerusalem’s status as a symbol,” according to the proposal’s preamble.

In total, the settlements in question are currently home to some 150,000 Israelis, the bill’s sponsors say.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last month appeared to give his backing to the ‘diplomatic’ plan to annex the West Bank, issuing a video message of support ahead of a vote by the far-right National Union-Tkuma party to officially adopt the policy.

The “Victory Plan” was first hatched by National Union-Tkuma politician Bezalel Smotrich, who serves as a Knesset member for the Jewish Home party.

The plan envisions annexing the West Bank and paying Palestinians to emigrate from the Israeli-occupied territory if they do not give up their national aspirations for statehood.

Under the proposal, Palestinians who remained in the Israeli annexed territory would not be allowed to vote in the Knesset unless they agreed to serve in Israel’s army.

A party conference held on Tuesday by National Union-Tkuma voted unanimously to adopt the proposal.

Palestinians who refuse to accept either of those options will “be dealt with by the security forces with a strong hand”, Smotrich said, according to the Times of Israel.

The plan envisions annexing the West Bank and paying Palestinians to emigrate from the Israeli-occupied territory to neighbouring Arab countries.

“We have to engrave in the consciousness of the Arabs and the entire world that there is no chance of establishing an Arab state in the Land of Israel”, Smotrich told attendees.

Echoing election campaign phrases used by Donald Trump, Smotrich said his plan “drain[ed] the swamp” of discourse around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by addressing its “root causes”.

The Yesha settlement umbrella council expressed an outlook similar to that of Kisch. “The time has come to impose sovereignty on all of Judea and Samaria,” Yesha settlement umbrella Council spokesman Yigal Dilmoni told reporters. “This legislation is the start of that effort. Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem are ten minutes away from each other, so it’s only natural that they be placed under the same municipal boundaries,” he added.

According to a 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center around half of Israel’s Jewish population support the transfer of Palestinians to other countries.

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