The Israeli government is poised to carry out what an NGO has described as "the first practical move to unilaterally annex West Bank territories to Israel since the annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967".
Ahead of Sunday's scheduled Israeli ministerial discussion on the so-called Greater Jerusalem bill, NGO Ir Amim said the law would "de facto annex the three major settlement blocs – Gush Etzion, Ma'ale Adumim/E-1, and Givat Ze'ev" to Jerusalem municipality – an "unprecedented move".
If approved by the ministerial committee, the bill is expected to advance to its first reading in the Knesset on Wednesday.
Ir Amim explains that the bill is one of two, with "its complement, the proposed amendment to Basic Law: Jerusalem: Capital of Israel (Amendment No. 2) – now being promoted by coalition members in an effort to fundamentally change the boundaries of Jerusalem."
Together, the bills "are intended to accomplish the de facto annexation of the three adjacent West Bank blocs" while also:
[removing] a third of the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem who live in the eight neighbourhoods located within the municipal line but outside the Separation Barrier
Under the new legislation, "the local authorities to be annexed to Jerusalem – the Beitar Illit and Ma'ale Adumim municipalities, the Givat Ze'ev and Efrat local councils and the Gush Etzion Regional Council – would be granted the status of Jerusalem sub-municipalities".
At the same time, "the bill establishes a second category of sub-municipalities of Jerusalem – the Jerusalem neighbourhoods separated from it by means of the Separation Barrier", citing three cases: the Shuafat refugee camp, Kafr Aqab and Anata.
Those pushing the bill are clear about the goals being sought; as Likud's Yoav Kisch put it, the "creation of a large Jewish metropolitan area with a solid Jewish majority". Another parliamentarian described the goal as: "To strengthen Jerusalem by adding thousands of Jewish residents to the city and simultaneously weakening the Arab hold on the capital".
According to Ir Amim:
This is the first practical move to unilaterally annex West Bank territories to Israel since the annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, coupled with a massive displacement of Palestinian residents from Jerusalem.