Israel Policy Forum (IPF) expresses in the strongest possible terms its consternation over the Greater Jerusalem Bill, set to be voted on by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation this Sunday. The bill, which would incorporate five West Bank settlements into the Jerusalem municipality, is the first step down the path of unilaterally annexing settlements to Israel itself. Should this occur, it will severely damage prospects for a two-state solution, communicate bad faith toward the Palestinians, and cast doubts on Israel’s commitment to a negotiated permanent status agreement.

Furthermore, adding these five local authorities to the city of Jerusalem will create an Orwellian absurdity in which these five settlements will not be considered part of Israel but will be incorporated into the boundaries of Israel’s capital. It will render Jerusalem an archipelago on a map rather than a coherent entity, expose the fiction of a united Jerusalem, and make governing and policing the city effectively that much more challenging . Rather than add far-flung entities to Jerusalem’s perimeter in an effort to gerrymander the city line and establish a larger Jewish population, the Israeli government should work to make sure that Jerusalem’s current neighborhoods have the infrastructure and the security that they need in order to be livable for all of their residents.

The disposition of Jerusalem is the thorniest of the final status issues between Israel and the Palestinians. Adding entities to the city that are not part of Jerusalem by any conceivable stretch of the imagination will only greatly exacerbate this issue going forward, and such moves are designed to do little but create facts on the ground that cut off access to the city for West Bank Palestinians. The Israeli cabinet should unequivocally reject this ludicrous and blatant effort to blur the line between Israel and the West Bank and not complicate the status of Jerusalem any further.