Israeli 'Greater Jerusalem' bill paused after U.S. pressure

A view of construction in the West Bank settlement of Efrat

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

A member of the ruling Likud Party and chairman of the coalition, David Bitan, told Army Radio a vote by the cabinet committee would be delayed because Washington told Israel the bill could impede USA efforts to revive the peace talks that collapsed in 2014. Its opponents argue that it is a step towards full unilateral annexation of the West Bank settlements affected - a move that would be sure to spark worldwide outrage.

In this Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 file photo, a Jewish settler looks at the West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, from the E-1 area on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem. "The Americans turned to us and inquired what the bill was about. As we have been co-ordinating with them until now, it is worth continuing to talk and co-ordinate with them". According to Haaretz newspaper, Netanyahu told cabinet members on Sunday that the bill must be discussed with United States officials before it can move forward.

The prime minister and wife Lucy Turnbull were greeted at Tel Aviv airport just after midday on Monday local time by Israel's Minister for Regional Co-operation, Tzachi Hanegbi. The release said they discussed issues facing Israel and how to bolster the relationship between the country and Wisconsin.

Israel's claim to all of Jerusalem as its capital, including the eastern sector it captured along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip in a 1967 Middle East war, has not won global recognition.

Israeli media reports said the United States ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, had conveyed misgivings about the legislation, under which the large Maale Adumim and Beitar Illit settlements would become part of a Greater Jerusalem municipality. Israel officially maintains that the settlements are not illegal, because the land is disputed rather than occupied.

For the vast majority of the worldwide 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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