'Mistake to delay annexation - don't ask permission, just do it'

Minister Ariel slams decision to delay annexation talks, says Israel 'is not the 51st star on the American flag.'

David Rosenberg,

Uri Ariel
Uri Ariel
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) slammed the Security Cabinet on Monday for its decision to push off deliberations on the proposed annexation of Maale Adumim until after Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with the new American president, Donald Trump.

Speaking with Army Radio, Ariel also expressed skepticism over pledges on Sunday to open up construction in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.

“Let’s see it [happen] in the field; we’ll judge it by the practical results. So far the Israeli government has not put up any tenders [for construction].”

Ariel called the decision to delay legislation to annex Maale Adumim “a mistake”, saying as a sovereign nation, Israel had no obligation to coordinate its actions with any other powers.

“It looks like the [Trump] White House said ‘Don’t surprise us’,” said Ariel, “but we don’t need to surprise – just announce that we are doing this [annexing Maale Adumim]. We are a sovereign state and not the 51st star on the American flag. We need to annex Maale Adumim because it is ours. The citizens living in Judea and Samaria deserve the same rights given to residents everywhere else in the country.”

Maale Adumim, home to 40,000 Israelis, is just east of Jerusalem, and is widely considered to be a “consensus community”, enjoying support from both the Israeli left and right.

On Sunday the Security Cabinet voted unanimously to delay discussion on a bill to annex Maale Adumim backed by Land of Israel Lobby chairman Yoav Kish (Likud) until after the meeting between Trump and Netanyahu, expected in early February.

The two leaders spoke Sunday night (Jerusalem time), in a phone call just under 30 minutes long Trump later described as “very nice”.

During the conversation, Trump invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to meet with him in Washington DC next month.