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Gush Emunim to Establish 12 New West Bank Settlements by Summer’s End with or Without Government Hel

Leaders of the Gush Emunim expressed disappointment today that the Likud-led government has failed to implement its promises, which Likud leaders made during the national election last May, to fully settle the areas of Judaea and Samaria. In a press conference here, Gush leaders said that “by the end of the summer, 12 new settlements in Judaea and Samaria are scheduled to be established.”

This statement was seen here as a warning to the government that unless it acts to fulfill its election campaign promises, the ultra-nationalist group would go ahead on its own, but that this action would be justified by the Gush on the basis of implied government policy.

The Gush leaders noted at the press conference that while the organization will not act against the government they will go ahead with their plans because the government has already stated that no Jewish settlements in Eretz Yisrael are illegal. They noted that the government stand on this issue is tantamount to a go-ahead signal for further settlement moves.

BASIS FOR THE MOVE

Gershon Shafat, one of the Gush leaders at the press conference, stressed that there is “no settlement without agreement by the government. But every settlement (so far) has been allowed by the government in its plans (for Judaea and Samaria) and we are part of the government plans.” Hanan Porat, leader of the Gush Emunim, said the delay in the group’s move to establish more settlements is due to the need to make certain preparations and to coordinate the establishing of the settlements with the government.

Asked if the Gush would act against the government if it should decide against legalizing any new settlements, Porat said that it might become necessary to go ahead with its plans without waiting for government assistance. “There is no doubt that after we settle, government assistance would follow.” He was referring to the fact that while the government may not prevent physically the Gush from settling it might withhold economic aid to make the settlements solvent and viable.

Porat, rejecting the view that this was a warning, declared: “We, the Gush, want to work in full cooperation with the government. However, since the government shows signs of hesitation, we would settle ourselves and then apply for government aid. Our settling is neither illegal nor against the government since we interpret the government statement about the right of any Jew to settle in Eretz Yisrael as a clear statement that new settlements are by no means illegal.”

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