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Israel plans expansion of Jerusalem to include nearby settlements

The illegal Ramat Shlomo settlement, located on Palestinian lands in East Jerusalem, seen on December 29, 2016 [Daniel Bar On / Anadolu Agency]
The illegal Ramat Shlomo settlement, located on Palestinian lands in East Jerusalem, seen on December 29, 2016 [Daniel Bar On / Anadolu Agency]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday announced his support for a plan to absorb five illegal settlements into occupied Jerusalem.

The “Greater Jerusalem Bill” would annex the settlements from military control, increasing Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries. The settlements in question are in the occupied West Bank, some up to six miles from Jerusalem, and are inhabited by 130,000 settlers, according to the Times of Israel.

The goal of the bill is to significantly increase occupied Jerusalem’s Jewish population and in the words of the proposal “bring back Jerusalem’s status as a symbol”.

Read: Israeli lawmakers vote to set high bar for ceding parts of Jerusalem

The plan would also see 100,000 Palestinians removed from the city’s census to be considered under a new municipality. The Arab neighbourhoods of Kafr Aqab, Anata and the Shuafat refugee camp would no longer be adminsitered by Jerusalem authorities, but considered independent towns in the locality.

Israeli parliamentarian Yoav Kisch, who initiated the bill, said he was “glad the prime minister supports this move that would strengthen the Jewish majority in the capital, through Greater Jerusalem.”

Israel’s persistent engagement in settlement activities have been universally condemned and are illegal under international law. On 23 December 2016, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution calling on Israel to immediately and fully halt its settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.

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