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White House opposed vote on Israel 'annexation' bill

30 October 2017

US pressure delayed an Israeli ministerial vote Sunday on a proposed bill that Washington fears entails the annexation of Jewish settlements near Jerusalem, an Israeli lawmaker said.

A senior USA official told The Times of Israel the meeting was "a general check-in on peace conversations".

"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", the official said.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper quoted Netanyahu as saying Israel needs to coordinate the bill with the U.S.

It was a signal that Netanyahu was under pressure not to move forward from the White House, which has been seeking ways to restart long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Earlier Sunday, David Bitan, the Likud party's parliamentary whip and a close Netanyahu ally, told Army Radio the vote was delayed because "there is American pressure claiming this is annexation".

Some 500,000 Israelis live in the both-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem areas, home to more than 2.6 million Palestinians.

The bill has drawn harsh criticism from Palestinians and those hoping to salvage the two-state solution.

Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement watchdog group, says the bill would amount to "de facto annexation", and be a clear step toward full annexation of the West Bank.

They lie on land the worldwide community recognises as Palestinian but which Israel has occupied since 1967.

Intelligence and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who has pushed for the bill, says it would add an additional 150,000 people to Jerusalem's population, strengthening its Jewish majority.

The official said the controversial proposed Israeli legislation to expand the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem to include West Bank settlements was not discussed.

In addition, Governor Walker supports a bill co-authored by Senator Leah Vukmir (R - Brookfield) and Representative Dale Kooyenga (R - Brookfield) which would prohibit any entity in state government or local government from adopting a rule, ordinance, policy, or procedure that involves the entity in a boycott of Israel, or a boycott of a person doing business in Israel or in a territory under Israeli jurisdiction.

Israeli officials say around 12,000 settler units will be given various stages of approval this year, four times the number in 2016.

White House opposed vote on Israel 'annexation' bill