USA pressure behind delay in vote for 'Greater Jerusalem Bill'

Israeli settlement of Qedar shows the West Bank Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim a few kilometers from East Jerusalem

An official close to Israel's prime minister says a vote to link West Bank settlements to Jerusalem is stalled due to USA concerns.

The Greater Jerusalem legislation would bring some Jewish settlements built in the Palestinian West Bank under the jurisdiction of Jerusalem's municipal authority. David Bitan, chairman of Netanyahu's governing coalition, told Israel's army radio on Sunday that "there's American pressure that says that it's a case of annexation".

But the Israeli official said on condition of anonymity that the bill needs "diplomatic preparation", declining to elaborate further. 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.

Throughout this bill, Israel is to include the illegal settlements of Ma'aleh Adumim, Givat Zeev, Beitar Ellit, Efrat and Gush Etzion with a total population of 150,000 to the Jerusalem Municipality increasing its Jewish population in an effort to reduce its Arab majority. 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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Mr Shorten reiterated his support for a two-state solution amid pushes by some grassroots Labor members to recognise Palestine as a state.

The "Greater Jerusalem Bill" as it's being called is expected to pass.

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. However, it has not received recognition of its claim by the worldwide community and most embassies, including that of the United States, are still in Tel Aviv. It sees the entire city as its indivisible capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

Israeli media have reported that the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, had conveyed "misgivings" about the legislation.

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