Proposed Annexation of Maale Adumim

On June 1, 2016, the Jerusalem Post published an article entitled, “Annexing Ma’aleh Adumim would end any peace process.” As an issue in the current political debate, the background to this story dates back to March 2016, when Avigdor Lieberman’s party Yisrael Beytenu proposed a bill allowing extension of Israeli planning and construction law to the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim (located east of Jerusalem). If enacted, this law would mean, de facto, the annexation of this settlement to Israel. The explicit purpose of the proposed law was to challenge the Netanyahu government, which Lieberman’s party (then in the opposition) accused of freezing construction in Maale Adumim, contrary to the government’s claims that it was promoting construction in West Bank settlements (aka, Judea and Samaria).

The draft law subsequently appeared on the agenda of the ministerial committee for legislation on May 22; as of this writing, no decision about when/whether to move ahead with the law has been made. However, Yisrael Beytenu’s entrance into the government, and the resulting broader right-wing coalition, raises concerns that the law will be advanced and endorsed.

If that happens, this will not be the first time the Netanyahu government has attempted to advance this kind of legislation. Under Netanyahu’s first tenure, his cabinet approved a plan to expand the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem to the north, to include the settlement of Givat Zeev; to the east, to include the settlement of Maale Adumim, and to the west, to include some existing Israel communities (inside the Green Line). The law sought to put all of these areas under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Jerusalem. It was only thanks to resolute international opposition that Netanyahu’s government decided to back down from this plan. Similar mobilization at the international level will likely be necessary to prevent Netanyahu’s new government from advancing the new proposed law.