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Under US pressure, Israel delays move to expand Jerusalem

Published:Sunday | October 29, 2017 | 12:00 AM


Under pressure from the United States, Israel has delayed a bill that would connect a number of West Bank settlements to Jerusalem, officials said yesterday.

The bill aims to solidify the city's Jewish majority, but stops short of formal annexation, making the practical implications unclear. The bill says the communities would be considered "daughter municipalities" of Jerusalem.

Israel's hard-line government has been emboldened by the Trump administration's more sympathetic approach to Israel and its settlement enterprise than that of President Barack Obama, and the draft bill is part of a series of pro-settler steps the government has taken in recent months.

Still, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to remain in President Donald Trump's good graces.

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

"The Americans turned to us and enquired what the bill was about. As we have been coordinating with them until now, it is worth (to continue) talking and coordinating with them. We are working to promote and develop the settlement enterprise," it quoted Netanyahu as saying.