U.S. pressure behind delay in vote for 'Greater Jerusalem Bill'

Alicia Cross
October 31, 2017

He was expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday afternoon before a private dinner with spouses at Mr Netanyahu's Jerusalem residence. It was a signal that Netanyahu was under pressure not to move forward from the White House, which has been seeking ways to restart long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

David Bitan, the Likud party's parliamentary whip and a close Netanyahu ally, told Army Radio the vote set for Sunday is delayed because "there is American pressure claiming this is annexation".

A bill before the Israeli parliament which would have secured a Jewish majority in Jerusalem has been delayed, following pressure from the U.S. and concerns it would allow Israel to annex large parts of the West Bank. "We are working to promote and develop the settlement enterprise", it quoted Netanyahu as saying at a government meeting Sunday.

Proponents of the legislation say it falls short of formal land annexation to Israel but will enable some 150000 settlers to vote in Jerusalem city elections.

He said it will take time to clarify the bill to the U.S.

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The proposed bill calls for expanding the Jerusalem municipal boundaries to include four major settlements and a settlement bloc in the West Bank that are home to more than 100,000 Israelis.

For the vast majority of the worldwide community, the status of Israel 's settlements, built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state, is to be decided in peace negotiations. The bill has drawn harsh criticism from Palestinians and those hoping to salvage the two-state solution.

Israeli media reports said the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, had conveyed misgivings about the legislation, under which the large Maale Adumim and Beitar Illit settlements would become part of a Greater Jerusalem municipality.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, the Old City and the West Bank from Jordan in 1967, and extended sovereignty to the Old City and East Jerusalem in 1980, in a move never recognized by the global community. It sees the entire city as its indivisible capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

Israeli media have reported that the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, had conveyed "misgivings" about the legislation.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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