Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel renewed his annexation campaign on Wednesday, as security forces finished the evacuation of nine homes in the Ofra settlement.
A source in the campaign said it was on the agenda for this Sunday’s Ministerial Legislative Committee and they believed it would come for a vote.
If its pulled off the agenda, than the ministers will have to explain why, the source said. Legislation to make his city of 38,000 people — the third largest West Bank settlement — part of sovereign Israel was initial placed on the agenda at the end of January.
It was pulled under pressure from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who asked its backers to wait until he had held his first meeting with newly inaugurated US President Donald Trump on February 15.
“It is time to make Ma’aleh Adumim a legal part of Israel. It has the same rights as Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv. Our people [fulfill] their duties to the state of Israel. Our children go to the army, we pay the city tax and [state] tax and we need the same rights like in Tel Aviv,” he said as he stood outside the mall in Ma’aleh Adumim.
He meet briefly with activists who handed fliers to customers asking them to send SMS message to the ministers demanding annexation.
“We started the struggle for this many years ago. Now we have more friends in the Knesset and in the government,” said Kashriel adding that a majority of the parliamentarians supported the initiative.
He added that in taking this step, Israel shouldn’t concern itself with timing.
The only question in front of Netanyahu is whether he will make history if he passes this legislation, Kashriel said.
Netanyahu has been under pressure from the rightwing blank of his party and the coalition to take dramatic steps with regard to Area C of the West Bank.
The High Court of Justice ordered demolitions of the Amona outpost in February and the razing of nine homes in the Ofra settlement this week, have only increased the pressure. It did so because the homes were built without permits on private Palestinian property.
Before heading to Washington Netanyahu approved and advanced 5,500 new housing units in West Bank settlements. He also promised the Amona families he would authorize a new settlement for them in the Binyamin region of the West Bank.
Trump, however, asked Netanyahu to “hold back” on settlement activity when the two held a public press conference in Washington.
After the meeting Netanyahu told reporters that Israel and the US planned to created a mechanism to come to an understanding with regard to settlement activity. But to date, the issue has not advanced.
In that same briefing at the Blair House, Netanyahu spoke against annexation efforts at this time and urged caution with regard to settlement activity. He seemed to indicate that now was not the time to authorize the new settlement for the Amona families.
Representatives of the 40 families that had lived in the outpost, plan to announce on Thursday morning that they are embarking on a hunger strike.
In Ofra security forced finished evacuating the nine homes, including at least ten teenagers from the roof top of one of the stone structures.
Cranes then reduced the homes to rubble, while residents watched from behind a steel barrier.
Most of the families had already packed their belongings but had returned to the structures when security forces arrived on Tuesday morning.
Police said that during the evacuation, 15 protestors were arrested, five on Tuesday and ten on Wednesday. During the last two days, 21 officers were lightly injured from clashes with the activists.
Security forces are expected to finish the demolition work on Thursday.