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Land of Israel Caucus submits bills to annex West Bank settlement blocs
By LAHAV HARKOV
05/26/2014
Katz seeks MK to legislate his plan to turn settlements near capital into "Greater Jerusalem."
 
Ten bills that could lead to the annexation of all settlements were placed on the Knesset’s docket Monday.

Coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) and MK Orit Struck (Bayit Yehudi), leaders of the Knesset Land of Israel Caucus, submitted separate bills calling to annex different settlement blocs, making up most of Area C.

Area C, which is under Israeli control, makes up about 60 percent of the West Bank, including all Jewish towns and settlements.

The legislation calls for Israeli law, judiciary and administration to apply to the areas in question.

Each of the 10 bills are identical, except for the names of the regions, which are: the Jordan Valley, the Ariel region, Lev Hashomron, the Modi’in area, Menashe, Binyamin, Gush Etzion including Efrat and Betar Illit, the Hebron region, Ma’aleh Adumim and western Samaria.

“This puts a solution on the table, which the State of Israel used since its establishment and when it applied its laws to Jerusalem and the Golan Heights,” Struck said.

According to Struck, “the Oslo Accords were a serious detour from this path and our move will return us to sanity and Zionism.”

A caucus spokesman said the bills were not coordinated with any ministers, but MKs were confident that they will receive support from many of them.

Meanwhile, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Ze’ev Elkin signed the bill, though he believes annexation will only be successful if it is gradual.

The Land of Israel Caucus bill follows efforts by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz to expand Israel’s sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.

Ahead of Jerusalem Day, which is on Wednesday, Katz is looking for MKs to submit a bill to expand the borders of the capital city to form “Greater Jerusalem.”

According to the proposal, Greater Jerusalem will include Ma’aleh Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, Gush Etzion and Betar Illit, which will be administered by a joint local authority while each town will maintain municipal independence.

The concept was modeled after Greater London and Greater Paris, which are made up of the capital cities and their suburbs.

“This initiative can get great support from Jews around the world and friends of Israel in the US and other places, who recognize our historic connection and right to Jerusalem,” Katz wrote on Facebook.

Earlier this month, Bennett presented his proposal to annex Area C to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in the wake of failed peace talks.

Katz, Communications Minister Gilad Erdan and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein have expressed support for annexing Area C.

According to Bennett, this would create a buffer zone for Gush Dan and Jerusalem, protecting Israel’s vital interests and national heritage sites.

There are an estimated 350,000 Israelis and 70,000 Palestinians living in Area C, and Bennett would offer those Palestinians Israeli citizenship.

His proposal also includes the removal of IDF roadblocks from areas under Palestinian control and investing in infrastructure and economic development there.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni reaffirmed her opposition to such plans in Monday’s Hatnua faction meeting.

“We say no to unilateral steps that go against the world, isolate Israel and prevent a peace deal,” Livni said.

“It won’t happen. Bennett knows it won’t happen, but he says it anyway because it looks good on Facebook.”

Livni added that she backs steps that will help lead to two states for two nations.

Similarly, Labor faction chairman Eitan Cabel said that “every day that Israel does not negotiate [with the Palestinians], it moves toward one state with an Arab majority.
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