TEL AVIV (Oct. 3)
About 30 Gush Emunim settlers established themselves at the Shomron army camp on the Nablus-Tulkarem highway on the West Bank yesterday afternoon. They are the vanguard of a group that will remain at the camp indefinitely as civilian employees of the army. Yesterday’s arrivals were all men. They will be joined later by their wives and children.
The army camp settlement was authorized by the Cabinet yesterday after proposals that the Gush men be enlisted in the army were dropped. As employees of the military, their presence in occupied territory is presumably sanctioned by international law.
Meanwhile, the government attempted to dissociate itself from the storm of criticism raised by the announcement last week that Gush settlers would be mobilized into the army reserve as the legal pretext for occupying six unused army camps on the West Bank. That idea was a compromise reached between Premier Menachem Begin and the Gush leaders after the government prevented several settler groups from establishing new settlements in the Samaria and Judaea regions after the Succot holiday.
Minister of Agriculture Ariel Sharon, a strong supporter of West Bank settlements, said the government never promised to enlist the Gush in the reserve. The Defense Ministry said officially that there would be no call-up of the settlers because such a move was not permitted by law. But the Gush leaders insisted that the suggestion had been made by Begin and said they accepted it reluctantly as the only way to remain on the West Bank with government approval.