Cabinet postpones discussion on Ma’ale Adumim annexation bill

The security cabinet agreed to postpone further discussion on legislation to extend Israeli sovereignty to Ma’ale Adumim until after Netanyahu’s talk Sunday evening with Trump.

Conflicting reports emerged early Sunday on the promotion of a bill that would place the largest Israeli city in Judea and Samaria under Israeli sovereignty.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reportedly asked the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to postpone a scheduled discussion on legislation to extend sovereignty to Ma’ale Adumim, at least until the security cabinet discusses the matter further.

Ma’ale Adumim, a suburb in Judea just south of Jerusalem, is located three miles outside the capital and is the largest Israeli city in Judea and Samaria. It has a population of 40,000.

The committee had been scheduled to take up the issue earlier on Sunday. The security cabinet finally agreed later in the afternoon to postpone further discussion on Ma’ale Adumim until after Netanyahu’s talk Sunday evening with Trump.

Initial reports on Sunday stated that Netanyahu had decided to postpone discussion on the bill following a message from the White House that it did not want any surprises caused by unilateral moves by Israel.

A later report, however, cited a senior White House official who contacted Jerusalem officials and told them that such a message had never been sent, that Washington is very busy with many other issues and that it is waiting for Israel to formulate a policy that it can support.

Netanyahu is reportedly exerting pressure on Minister of Education Naftali Bennett – chair of the Jewish Home party, who is leading efforts to pass the bill – to hold back on the move. The prime minister has reportedly spoken to Bennett twice on Sunday, but the minister is refusing to relent, demanding that Netanyahu present a clear agenda on Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria that pertains to the new era under the Trump administration.

Bennett believes that Israel has a new opportunity to push for full Israeli sovereignty in large areas of Judea and Samaria.

If the bill is put to a vote, it is expected to receive the support of the majority of ministers.

Similarly, Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz intends to submit the Greater Jerusalem bill, which would include large swaths of land under Israeli sovereignty, including Gush Etzion to the south of the capital and several neighborhoods to the north.

Netanyahu told the cabinet meeting on Sunday that he would speak with Trump later that evening. “There are many issues between us, including the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the situation in Syria and the Iranian threat,” he said.

“On the issue of settlement [Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria], none are more concerned about it than the Likud government and I, and we will continue to look out for it wisely and responsibly, for the benefit of the settlement enterprise and the State of Israel,” he declared.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News