Israeli education minister preparing to submit bill to annex one of its biggest illegal settlements

Israeli housing over the 1967 Green Line is viewed as illegal by international community

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The Independent Online

Israel's education minister is preparing to submit a bill to annex one of the country's largest illegal Jewish settlements.

Far-right minister Naftali Bennett said he will introduce a bill to formally declare the settlement block part of Israel later this month.

Maale Adumim, to the east of Jerusalem, is one of the largest Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

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“After being here for 50 years, the time has come to end military rule," Haaretz reported Mr Bennett as saying.

He made clear he saw the annexation as the first step in reclassifying large parts of the West Bank that remain under Israeli control, known as Area C. 

Mr Bennett added: “For this reason, by the end of the month, we will submit the bill for applying [Israeli] law to Judea and Samaria [a name used by Israelis for the Palestinian territories] and will embark on a new path.

"We will present to the cabinet a bill for applying Israeli law in Maale Adumim.”

Israeli housing in any form outside of the 1967 Green Line is viewed as illegal by the international community.

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The West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim (Reuters)

They are also seen as one of the major stumbling blocks to any lasting peace deal in the decades-old stalemate.

Mr Bennett heads the Jewish Home Party, which is affiliated with the West Bank settler movement.

Speaking after the election of Mr Trump as President of the United States, he declared: "The era of a Palestinian state is over". 

Mr Trump has been vocal in his support for the Israeli government, calling a resolution adopted by the UN to condemn settlements - with a historic abstention from the US - "extremely unfair to all Israelis".

"As to the UN, things will be different after Jan 20th," he tweeted.

Last month, the education minister proposed a bill which would recognise 3,881 "wildcat" housing units originally built without permission on private Palestinian land in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

"With this law, the state of Israel has moved from the path leading to the creation of a Palestinian state to the path leading to [Israeli] sovereignty" over most of the West Bank, he said at the time.

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