Israeli minister proposes annexing settlements into Jerusalem
Israel's right-wing intelligence minister on Monday proposed annexing five illegal East Jerusalem settlements into Israel's expanded municipal borders, while simultaneously removing thousands of Palestinians.
"Those settlements, those towns -- Maale Adumim, Gush Etzion, Givat Zeev, Beitar Illit and Efrat -- will become part of Jerusalem but without changing their status -- without putting the Israeli sovereignty on those places," Katz told reporters.
Katz also proposed that 100,000 Palestinians living in areas outside of the Israeli separation wall - also known as the seam zone - would become part of a new municipality within the framework of a "greater Jerusalem."
The move would increase Jerusalem's official Jewish population while reducing the number of Palestinians.
"I am a hawk, but a clever hawk, a humanitarian hawk," Katz, a member of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's right-wing government, said.
The bill will be discussed this week by Israel's cabinet, but does not as yet have the full backing of Netanyahu.
All settlements in the occupied West Bank are considered illegal under international law, as is formal annexation of land seized during war.
The far-right Jewish Home party has long proposed unilaterally annexing Maale Adumim into Israel, a move that would draw strong international condemnation.
Since the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has promoted the goal of expanding the city's Jewish population while reducing its Palestinian population, Israeli rights groups say.