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Jerusalem May Be About to Expand - Here's Why

First Station Building in Jerusalem, Photo, GPO, Amos Ben Gershom

JERUSALEM, Israel – The Ministerial Legislative Committee will vote Sunday on a bill to annex 19 "settlements" to the Jerusalem municipality. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports the measure, which if passed will be voted on by the Knesset before becoming law.

Settlements include any city, town, neighborhood or community outside the "green line," officially called the 1949 Armistice Demarcation Line, which prevailed from 1949 to 1967.

Often referred to as the pre-1967 armistice lines – that is, prior to the Six-Day War – the demarcations were never meant to be permanent. They were originally designated as "interim arrangements" that would be realigned by permanent peace treaties with surrounding Arab countries.

Only Egypt and Jordan have bona fide peace treaties with Israel though Netanyahu says that's beginning to change not only because of what Israel has to offer other nations, but also to present a united front against terror organizations.
Three Arab neighborhoods – Shuafat, Anata and Kafr Akab – would also become sub-municipalities of Jerusalem.

Support for the legislation is pretty much divided along political lines, with left-wingers opposing the bill and their counterparts supporting it.

The ultra-left-wing Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) organization says it's tantamount to a "de facto annexation," a perspective that doesn't consider Israel's historical connection to its ancient homeland.

Legislators modified an earlier version of the bill, deleting the phrase "annexed to Israel," instead saying the communities will be "added to Jerusalem."  

"In this way a population will be added to Jerusalem that would enable a demographic balance and provide land for additional housing, commerce and tourism," the revised bill states.

Residents of the sub-municipalities will be able to vote in Jerusalem elections, while their local governments will continue to function as such.

Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz believes the bill strengthens the eternal Jewish connection to Jerusalem and helps ensure a Jewish majority by adding 150,000 residents to the city's population.

The bill's abstract summarizes what it's meant to accomplish.

"The concept of Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel, has been eroded, it has lost its symbolism and has been broken down into issues of demography and current political realism vis-à-vis the Palestinian determination to control Jerusalem and its holy places.

"It is therefore proposed that the communities surrounding Jerusalem be made part of it. This way, Jerusalem would absorb population that would allow it to maintain its demographic balance, as well as many areas that would allow for residential, commercial and tourist expansion while maintaining the city's green lungs."


The Jerusalem Post contributed to this report.



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