A girl holds an Israeli flag on a hilltop near the Maaleh Adumim settlement.
The Knesset Land of Israel caucus called on Tuesday to annex Ma’aleh Adumim, citing a poll showing nearly 78 percent of Israelis agree to it, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he is ready to negotiate based on the Arab Peace Initiative.
The controversial Arab Peace Initiative – long rejected by Jerusalem and also known as the Saudi Initiative – calls for normalizing relations between Arab countries and Israel, in exchange for a complete withdrawal by Israel to pre-1967 lines, which Ma’aleh Adumim is beyond.
Most calls for a two-state solution on pre-1967 lines with land swaps put Ma’aleh Adumim on the Israeli side of the proposed border.
Still, Land of Israel Caucus chairmen MKs Yoav Kisch (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) submitted legislation calling to apply Israeli law to Ma’aleh Adumim, which would be de facto annexation of the city.
The MKs called for the rightwing government, newly infused with a five-seat boost from Yisrael Beytenu, to “realize the will of the people and apply sovereignty to Ma’aleh Adumim.”
A poll Kisch and Smotrich ordered from prominent research institute Midgam found that 77.9% of Jewish Israelis think Israel should apply sovereignty to Ma’aleh Adumim even if there is no agreement with the Palestinians, as it did with the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem in 1980, while 70.4% said such a move would be worthwhile even if there is a significantly negative reaction from the international community.
Only 34.5% said it would be better to wait for an agreement with the Palestinians before annexing the city.
In addition, 88% of those polled said residents of Ma’aleh Adumim deserve the same rights as all other Israeli citizens.
The poll was conducted by a representative sample of 500 Jewish Israeli adults, and has a margin of error of 4.4%.
Smotrich said the poll shows that “the people of Israel know what is good for them, and most of the nation on the Right and Left support applying Israeli sovereignty to Ma’aleh Adumim... Mr. Prime Minister, you’ve run out of excuses; it’s time for sovereignty.”
“Ma’aleh Adumim is part of the public consensus as an inseparable part of Israel and is part of the political consensus on Right and Left,” the Land of Israel Caucus statement reads. “It is clear that Ma’aleh Adumim will remain part of Israeli territory in any future agreement.”
The caucus said it will take advantage of the current coalition situation to bring about the annexation.
Gush Etzion Local Council Mayor Davidi Perel demanded that his region, which is south of Jerusalem and past the 1949 armistice line, be included in any discussion of annexation.
“Gush Etzion’s status is rooted in the Israeli public and the connection between Gush Etzion and Jerusalem and the State of Israel cannot be severed,” Perel stated. “Gush Etzion’s contribution to the establishment of the state and the leadership of Jerusalem, as well as its importance to the future of Israel cannot be questioned.”
Perel pointed out that parties on the Right and Left see Gush Etzion as part of Israel in an eventual peace treaty.
Jews lived in Gush Etzion before the establishment of the state in 1948, but the region was lost to Arab armies in the War of Independence.
The most famous incident in the battle in the region was in January 1948, when a convoy of 35 Hagana fighters, known as the “Lamed Heh” (35 in Hebrew numerals), were killed by Arabs while trying to resupply the kibbutzim of Gush Etzion, which were under a blockade.
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