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Likud Executive Meets on Settlements

The Likud Executive has decided to convene a special session on settlement in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip after the Sept. 5 Camp David summit in order to adopt a definitive policy on this issue. The decision yesterday followed intense differences of opinion revealed in a faction meeting in Tel Aviv, concerning the settlement activities of Gush Emunim.

Although representatives of the Gush were invited to the meeting, only its secretary of political affairs, Gershon Shift, attended. He protested the Likud government’s settlement policies. Shift accused the government of “settlement inactivity” due to fear of American opposition. He called for a clear, definitive policy on the issue. He also described the difficult conditions in the settlements, all of which are temporary, and of the over 1,000 families waiting to move to new settlements.

In a biting response, Likud chairman Avraham Sharir attacked the Gush spokesman, saying that making the settlements permanent was too high a political price to pay at this time. Likud MK Geula Cohen, on the other hand, sided with Shift, contending that the government is deluding itself on the issue of settlements. Lashing out at Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon, Cohen charged that Sharon acts as if “we are still living under Turkish rule,” and consequently settlements are established in a secretive manner.

Accusations continued back and forth between what was apparently the Liberal Party members, who opposed Gush Emunim, and Herut supporters, who were more sympathetic to Gush claims. However, aside from Cohen, all members agreed that settlement operations must be postponed until after the Camp David summit. Likud did, however, decide to convene a meeting tomorrow, with Premier Menachem Begin’s participation, on the upcoming summit.

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