JERUSALEM (May. 10)
The Gush Emunim blasted the Cabinet’s decision to block their attempt to establish a permanent settlement at Kadum in Samaria. At a press conference this evening, the group’s leader, Hanan Porat, declared that they “cannot accept” and “will not agree to” any move to evacuate the squatters from the site where they have been living since November under army protection. He declared that the encampment outside the Kadum military base would continue to be built up and developed into a permanent settlement.
That was in direct defiance of the Cabinet’s four-point decision issued last night which specifically enjoined the squatters from establishing a permanent settlement at Kadum. Some sources believed, however, that Porat left the door open for bargaining over an alternative site. In reply to a question, he said the Gush would “seriously consider” a “serious offer” by the government of an alternative site “elsewhere in the heart of Samaria.”
The “heart of Samaria” thus appears to have become the rallying cry of the Orthodox nationalist militants. Porat warned that “there must be no ploy,” meaning that if the government excluded the “heart of Samaria” to Jewish settlement, its offer would be rejected.
TO DRAFT ALTERNATIVE PROPOSALS
Porat flayed the government for not consulting with the Gush before taking its decision and urged the ministers to reconsider the whole question of Jewish settlement on the West Bank. The Cabinet stated in its decision that Jewish settlement would continue “on both sides of the Green Line.” the demarcation line between Israel and the administered territories. But it stressed that the location of settlements would be decided solely by the Ministerial Settlement Committee, subject to approval by the full Cabinet.
The committee, headed by Minister-Without-Portfolio Israel Galili, is scheduled to meet this week to draft alternative proposals for the Kadum squatters. According to informed sources, they may be offered a site near the Nahal (paramilitary) post of Kochav Hashahar, northeast of Jerusalem on slopes overlooking the Jordan Valley. Some political observers were optimistic that the term “heart of Samaria” would prove sufficiently flexible for an amicable solution to be worked out.
A good deal will depend, of course, on the public mood during the weeks ahead, and on how the Gush Emunim perceive their support in the public. Cabinet circles are convinced that following yesterday’s decision, the greater part of Emunim’s supporters will swing against a non-compromise position, and will urge the hard-core settlers to accept the proffered compromise alternative.