A direct interference from the US administration has pushed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to “postpone” discussing a bill that would annex settlements in the occupied West Bank to Jerusalem to ensure a Jewish majority in the Holy city.
Netanyahu asked ministers of the ruling Likud party to postpone voting on the so-called “Greater Jerusalem bill”, which had been planned for the weekly meeting of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday.
The bill would annex 19 cities and towns in Judea and Samaria to the capital, and would therefore add around 150,000 Jews to the city’s population.
Explaining his decision, Netanyahu said on Sunday: “Our American allies turned to us seeking to understand the essence of the law. As we have cooperated with them so far, it is worthwhile talking with them and coordinating with them. We are working to promote and develop settlement rather than to promote other considerations.”
A high-ranking official from the ruling coalition said on Sunday that the current version of the bill would lead to immense pressure from the international community, adding that the law includes juridical problems, which Netanyahu cannot accept to support.
Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz, who has originally proposed the bill, said he respected Netanyahu’s decision. “The prime minister said he supported the bill. However, the Americans asked for some explanations concerning the content of the law. I understand this.”
Officials from the Israeli left wing were optimistic about the suspension of the bill.
Israeli Arab Knesset member Issawi Frej from the left-wing Meretz party said the delay of a vote on the bill means that when Washington decides on something, it can impose its decision on Netanyahu’s government.
Frej hoped that the US would also pressure the Israeli government to accept a settlement based on the two-state solution and therefore, would “relieve us from the crazy consequences of the conflict.”