Bill to Annex Jerusalem Suburb Picks up Support in the Knesset

“In that day Hashem made a covenant with Avram, saying: ‘Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” Genesis 15:18 (The Israel Bible™)

A new bill which would lead to Israel annexing the city of Ma’ale Adumim was presented on Monday to Yuli Edelstein (Likud), the Speaker of the Knesset.

Introduced by the Land of Israel lobby, headed by MKs Yoav Kish (Likud) and Betzalel Smotrich (Jewish Home), the bill, entitled states that “the laws and administrative principles of the State of Israel will be applied in the territory of Ma’ale Adumim”.

The Ministers and MKs also signed the “sovereignty declaration” for Ma’ale Adumim, which reads “We hereby declare our support for the ‘Israeli Ma’ale Adumim’ plan, our identification with the call ‘The time has come for sovereignty in Ma’ale Adumim’, and our commitment to act to bring the plan to apply Israeli sovereignty to Ma’ale Adumim to fruition, because it is the correct and Israeli step to take.”

MK Yuli Edelstein. (photo: TPS)
MK Yuli Edelstein. (Photo: TPS)

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) strongly supported the annexation of the city in a recent Facebook post.

“The move to annex Ma’ale Adumim is right and proper,” Edelstein wrote. “By not building there, we are distancing peace,” he added. “Reversing this trend is also important for [national] unity.”

During a small celebration held in the Knesset by the bill’s advocates, Edelstein repeated his message saying, “We’ve been sending out mixed messages, messages that only drive peace further away.”

“This shift in strategy is very important. It’s good to go with consensus issues, and Ma’ale Adumim is a consensus issue,” the Knesset member continued, referring to a poll commissioned by the caucus in May which showed that 78 percent of Israeli Jews supported annexing Ma’ale Adumim.

“We’ve initiated a move here and we’ll win. We will traverse the long road to the ratification of the law together,” Edelstein affirmed.

Mayor of Ma’ale Adumim Benny Cashriel was in attendance for the bill’s presentation. He noted that in the past, left-wing politicians who were strong proponents of the Oslo Process and the two-state solution, such as former prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak and former minister Yossi Beilin, supported annexing Ma’ale Adumim, insisting that the city would remain as part of Israel in the terms of any peace agreement.

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Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Likud) also strongly supports the bill. “We need to make clear to Israeli citizens and the world that Ma’ale Adumim must be developed,” she said to the Knesset. “The [Likud led] coalition is united in the goal of developing Judea and Samaria and Ma’ale Adumim. I very much hope we’ll see the day when we’ll be able to accomplish that.”

Ma’ale Adumim is mentioned in the Book of Joshua as the border between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

“And the border went up to Debir from the valley of Achor, and so northward, looking toward Gilgal, that is over against the ascent of Adummim, “ Joshua 15:7

Mayor Cashriel alluded to this at the celebration, saying, “We can’t always fear what the world will say. This is the land of our fathers. History proves that.”

Adding his own sentiments, Chairman of the Land of Israel lobby MK Kish said, “We will withstand the greatest pressures. We’ll stand up for our truth, and stand at the gate of the city that was built to protect the eastern gate of our capital, Jerusalem. To clarify, this is not an isolated move. This is the opening salvo in the fight for Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samara.”

“Ma’ale Adumim is the first stop in a long journey to strengthen the Zionist endeavor,” he said.

The Judean city has been garnering much support lately. In early July, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman approved the construction of 560 new housing units in Ma’ale Adumim. The decision came as part of a series of measures in response to two deadly terror attacks in the Hebron region in late June.

In the face of Israeli support to annex the large city, Ma’ale Adumim is still a magnet for international criticism of Israel. Due to its location, annexation would preclude a Palestinian state connecting the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Located just seven kilometers from Jerusalem, Ma’ale Adumim has over 40,000 residents and encompasses 35 square kilometres (14 sq mi), of which 3.7 square kilometres (1.43 square miles) have been built so far.

One of the original intentions behind establishing Ma’ale Adumim was to supply affordable housing for young couples who could not afford the high cost of homes in Jerusalem.

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