JERUSALEM (Jan. 5)
Premier Yitzhak, Rabin assured Cabinet “doves” yesterday that the mobile homes being provided to the Gush Emunim settlers adjacent to the Kadum army came near Nablus in the Samaria district of the West Bank did not signify a decision by the government to establish a permanent Jewish settlement there.
The presence of the mobile homes, donated by the Jewish Agency, outside the army camp perimeter and the construction of a road from the camp to the makeshift settlement raised questions at yesterday’s Cabinet session that the government was going beyond the compromise it reached with the Gush Emunim in November.
Defense Minister Shimon Peres told the Cabinet that the land outside the Kudum installation had in fact been annexed to the army five years ago and therefore no new land annexation was involved. The Military Governor of the Samaria region has, at the same time, warned increasingly restive Arab villagers at Kudum to desist from any provocative actions against the settlers. He claimed the land occupied by them belonged to no one and was under the jurisdiction of the custodian of abandoned property.
COMPROMISE PROVOKED OBJECTIONS
The government reached a compromise with the militant Orthodox Gush Emunim during the Chanukah holidays to avoid a confrontation between the army and several hundred squatters who had occupied a site near Sebastia in the Samaria district with the stated intention of establishing a settlement in defiance of government policy
Under the compromise, most of the squatters agreed to leave the area voluntarily but about 30 families were permitted to remain within the confines of the Kudum army camp though they were given freedom of movement. The compromise was supposed to be in effect pending a Cabinet debate and decision on the delicate issue of Jewish settlements on the West Bank.
Cabinet “doves” and others objected vehemently at the time and riots broke out in Nablus and other Arab towns which had to be quelled by force. The government was accused of surrendering to the Gush Emunim who had clearly violated the law. Those charges were revived last week when heavy equipment was brought into the region to build a road and the mobile homes were located outside the army camp proper.
Although soldiers stationed at Kudum were under strict orders not to fraternize with the settlers, there has been considerable mingling. The placing of the mobile homes outside the army camp was justified by the government on grounds that the settlers should not be forced to live under military regulations.
The land involved covers 200 dunams, about 50 acres. According to government sources, the headmen of nearby Kudum village were trying to incite the villagers and the residents of other Arab hamlets in the region to protest. A delegation that met with the Military Governor to object to the settlement activity was given a stern warning to maintain law and order. They were told the authorities would deal harshly with any attempt by Arabs to interfere with the settlers.
DRIVE TOWARD CO-EXISTENCE
Meanwhile, a group of Jewish and Arab students and some faculty members of the Orthodox-sponsored Bar Ilan University of TEL AVIV have organized a drive toward consistence between the Gush Emunim settlers and local Arabs. They suggested the erection of a large workshop or factory in the area where Jews and Arabs would be employed. They also said they intended to meet with the villagers and headman of Kudum to explain that the presence of the Jewish settlers posed no threat to the Arab inhabitants of the region.
It was learned today that the first settlers have begun to arrive at Har Odem, the third of the four new Golan Heights settlements recently authorized by the Cabinet. Har Odem is sponsored by Haoved Hatzioni. the settlement movement of the Independent Liberal. Party. The new village was formerly a Syrian outpost. The settlers are moving into structures left by the Syrians and into newly built concrete houses.