J Street is deeply alarmed by reports that Israel’s cabinet will vote on Sunday to advance the “Greater Jerusalem Bill.” This extremely provocative legislation would bring several West Bank settlements under the control of the Jerusalem municipality. That would be a major step in Israel’s ongoing, de facto annexation of territory throughout the West Bank – and pose a massive threat to the possibility of ever achieving a two-state solution. If carried out, Israel would be crossing a major red line by unilaterally imposing its own solution to a vital final status issue.
This bill is just the latest sign that the Israeli government is committed to creating “facts on the ground” in order to solidify Israel’s hold over the West Bank and undermine any serious negotiations toward a two-state solution. Also this week, Israeli authorities approved a major expansion of the settlement of Nof Zion, located inside the heart of the East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber. And the prime minister promised settlement movement leaders hundreds of millions of shekels for the further development of settlement infrastructure throughout the West Bank.
Throwing off all caution and restraint, Prime Minister Netanyahu is now doing everything that he can to shore up his political support with the settlement movement – at the expense of Israel’s security, its international standing and its future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.
For years, many in the Israel advocacy community have denounced the threat of “unilateral action” by the Palestinians – including relatively minor symbolic steps, like application to membership at international agencies. But these same voices now remain silent as the Israeli government takes unilateral steps to reshape Israel’s borders, ignoring the concerns of the Palestinians and virtually the entire international community. The Trump administration, too, has yet to condemn the “Greater Jerusalem Bill,” or take any meaningful action to oppose settlement expansion in the West Bank.
This silence is dangerous and unacceptable. All those who are concerned about securing Israel’s future through a two-state solution must warn against the “Greater Jerusalem Bill” and its disastrous consequences.