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Israeli cabinet to mull annexing West Bank settlements

English.news.cn   2014-02-05 21:52:00

JERUSALEM, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- Israel's Ministerial Committee for Legislation will discuss on Sunday a proposal to officially annex all Jewish settlements in the Palestinian West Bank if Palestinians ever achieve statehood, Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper reported.

The bill sponsored by Miri Regev, who is a member of parliament in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, also calls to prohibit the government from restricting settlement construction for diplomatic reasons. The settlements are a contentious issue in Israel, which has occupied parts of the West Bank since the 1967 Mideast War, because they are considered illegal by many countries, including Israel's longtime ally, the United States.

Regev said Wednesday on her Facebook page that the bill is aimed at keeping Jewish settlements under Israeli sovereignty under any future peace agreement or in the case of a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.

"Unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state would have an immediate and fateful impact on the daily lives of Israeli citizens living in the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria ( the settlers' name for the West Bank)," Regev said, adding "We have an obligation to protect the lives of people living in these communities."

In December, the ministerial committee approved a previous bill by Regev to annex the occupied Jordan Valley. The bill was slammed by senior members of Netanyahu's government as well as U.S. officials. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is also Israel's chief negotiator with the Palestinians, had appealed the decision, thus temporarily suspended its legislation process.

Peace talks between Israel and Palestinian negotiators were resumed last July under heavy pressure by the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is pushing to reach a framework agreement until April.

Israel's ongoing construction in the occupied West Bank has been condemned by both the U.S. and the Palestinians, who said the growing settlements blocks will prevent the possibility of establishing any Palestinian state in the future.

Editor: chengyang
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