MA’ALE ADUMIM, West Bank — The first babies of Ma’ale Adumim, a hilly city on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem, are now middle-aged. A cemetery finally opened last year, and 40 residents are buried there, most dead of natural causes after long and peaceful lives.
That is to say, there is nothing temporary about this place, one of the closest settlements to Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, which Israel seized from Jordan 50 years ago. “It’s part of Jerusalem,” said Sima Weiss, 58, who has lived here 30 years, raised three children and works a cleaning job just 20 minutes away by bus in the holy city proper. “I don’t feel like a settler.”
The world has focused more critically recently on Israel’s settlements in occupied territory, after last month’s United Nations declaration — which the United States tacitly supported — that they are killing the dream of one state for Jews, one for Palestinians.
Many Israelis argue that Ma’ale Adumim — a city of 41,000 with filled schools, a largely secular civic pride and skittish stray cats — is a special case: Its closeness to Jerusalem has put it near the top of the list of settlements Israelis say they could swap for other land in a peace deal.
Yet Ma’ale Adumim has become a flash point of the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. Right-wing politicians, emboldened by a more sympathetic Trump administration, want to annex it to Israel proper — the first formal annexation of a settlement. Supporters of the move argue that in the long absence of negotiations, Israel cannot stand still, and Ma’ale Adumim would likely be a part of Israel in any case.