American pressure was behind Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking his ministerial Cabinet to postpone voting on the “Greater Jerusalem Bill”, Israeli media reported.
Throughout this bill, Israel is to include the illegal settlements of Ma’aleh Adumim, Givat Zeev, Beitar Ellit, Efrat and Gush Etzion with a total population of 150,000 to the Jerusalem Municipality increasing its Jewish population in an effort to reduce its Arab majority.
“We are in touch with the Americans,” Netanyahu said, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. “The Americans turned to us and inquired what the bill was about. As we have been coordinating with them until now, it is worth [continuing] talking and coordinating with them.”
He then voiced his clear support for the illegal settlement project. “We are working to promote and develop the settlement enterprise,” he said.
Meanwhile, a senior Israeli official told Haaretz that the bill is to be modified before being brought back to the ministerial council again.
“The current version of the… bill invites international pressure and involves difficult legal issues,” the senior figure told Haaretz. “Netanyahu cannot allow himself to advance this version at this time.”
Ynet News reported a senior American official saying that “the US is discouraging actions that it believes will unduly distract the principals from focusing on the advancement of peace negotiations.”
He added: “The Jerusalem expansion bill was considered by the administration to be one of those actions.”