Israeli 'Greater Jerusalem' bill paused after USA pressure

Likud MK David Bitan is seen at a Likud rally near Ben Gurion International Airport

Likud MK David Bitan is seen at a Likud rally near Ben Gurion International Airport

An official close to Israel's prime minister says a vote to link West Bank settlements to Jerusalem is stalled due to US concerns. "I think it's fair to say that the United States is discouraging actions that it believes will unduly distract the principals from focusing on the advancement of peace negotiations", a USA official said on condition of anonymity.

But Likud member David Bitan, chairperson of Netanyahu's coalition in parliament, said a vote by the cabinet committee would be delayed because Washington told Israel the bill's passage could impede United States efforts to revive peace talks that collapsed in 2014. But in the occupied West Bank, anger is continuing over illegal Israeli settlements.

The law stops short of annexing West Bank territory to Israel, and its practical implications are unclear.

He added: "The Jerusalem expansion bill was considered by the administration to be one of those actions".

"The Americans turned to us and inquired what the bill was about".

"I want them to really understand what we are going through and that every day this lady is running free, running wild, it's really traumatic for us", Elly Sapper told the ABC.

"This place will be a part of the state of Israel", said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Parliamentarians representing Turnbull's Liberal Party as well as those from the Australian Labor Party led by party and opposition leader Bill Shorten were in attendance, as well as members of five delegations - four of them trade delegations - who are in Israel to enhance bilateral relations in their respective fields and to join in the Beersheba festivities.

Settlements affected are Maale Adumim, Beitar Illit, Efrat, Givat Zeev, and the Gush Etzion settlement bloc.

Most countries also consider the West Bank settlements illegal under worldwide law, as well as the formal annexation of land seized during war. Israel disputes that its settlements are illegal, citing historical, biblical and political links to the territory, as well as security considerations. For the vast majority of the global community, the status of Israel's settlements, built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state, is to be decided in peace negotiations.

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