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October 29, 2017 9:47 am

Israel Delays Jerusalem Expansion Bill Following US Pressure

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom / GPO. – Israel has delayed legislation that would integrate some Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria into the Jerusalem municipality.

According to advocates of the “Greater Jerusalem Bill,” the legislation would serve to balance the demographics of Israel’s capital by integrating additional Jewish communities into Jerusalem as “daughter municipalities.”

The bill was initiated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, and was due to be presented to a ministerial committee for approval Oct. 29 before being submitted to the Knesset legislature for a series of votes.

The chairman of Israel’s coalition government, Knesset member David Bitan (Likud), told Army Radio that the bill’s introduction was delayed due to pressure from the Trump administration, over concerns that the measure could hinder renewed US peace efforts in the region.

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“There is American pressure that claims this is about annexation and that this could interfere with the peace process,” Bitan said.

“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.

The Jewish communities that would be absorbed into Jerusalem’s municipality — Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, Beitar Illit, Efrat and the Gush Etzion bloc of neighborhoods — are home to about 130,000 Israelis. Some of the communities are situated deep in the disputed territories, as far as six miles from Jerusalem.

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