The West Bank city of Ma’aleh Adumim must be annexed to preserve a united Jerusalem, right-wing politicians said on Monday as they rallied on behalf of including the urban settlement in the capital’s borders.
“The answer to the international battle over Jerusalem is to impose sovereignty over Ma’aleh Adumim, to ensure a united and developing Jerusalem,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said as she addressed several hundred rally-goers in front of the Knesset, as the parliament’s winter session convened inside.
Many of the protesters rode from Ma’aleh Adumim in a convoy of buses and trucks plastered with signs. The signs featured a new advertising campaign that settlers launched on Sunday that features pictures of past prime ministers who made strong statements in favor of the city. Chief among the pictures displayed was one of Shimon Peres who died last month.
The rally was part of a political push begun last year to pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to annex the third-largest settlement, which is located just outside of Jerusalem.
Palestinians believe that Ma’aleh Adumim must be within the boundaries of their future state, an idea that has the support of much of the international community. As a result many nations, including the US, have pressured Israel to limit construction there.
Right-wing politicians have responded by naming Ma’aleh Adumim as one of the starting points of their campaign to annex West Bank settlements, in the same way that the state declared sovereignty over Jerusalem after the Six Day War.
Hotovely said it would be fitting for the Knesset to approve such a historic decision at the same time that Israel marks the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem that resulted from the war.
“The settlements are not Israel’s stepson, but rather the favored and oldest and most senior son of the Jewish nation,” Hotovely said. “Judicial advisors and international pressure should not determine an issue that is so substantive for us.”
Coalition Chairman David Bitan (Likud) also promised to work toward annexation and expansion of building in spite of US pressure. “We don’t have to be afraid,” he said.
Knesset Land for Israel Caucus Co-Chair MK Yoav Kisch said, “We are continuing the path of past Israeli leaders who stood at the forefront of Zionism for all its years. Now it’s our turn to be Zionist leaders.”
For the skeptics, he reminded protesters, it was best to remember those who, prior to 1948, did not believe that Jews would ever have a state, and those who less than 20 years later thought Israel would not survive the Six Day War.
“The time has come to put a Zionist stake in the year 2016.” This is the year, Kisch said, for the Knesset to annex Ma’aleh Adumim, and to include it within Israel’s sovereign borders as an act that stands at the heart of the Israeli consensus.
MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi) said the time had come for Ma’aleh Adumim residents to have the same rights as those who live within Israel’s sovereign borders.
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi), who co-chairs the Knesset’s Land of Israel Caucus, said that the annexation talk is not a “warning campaign,” but an initiative that will succeed.
“The time has come to be normal,” he said.
Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel referred to an opinion poll taken in the spring in which 78% of respondents supported annexation.
If so many Israelis “call on you to impose sovereignty, you have to listen to them. There is no reason not to impose sovereignty and to begin building.”
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