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Extension of Deadline for Evacuating Elonmoreh May Be Sought

The government may apply to the Supreme Court for an extension of the deadline for the evacuation of Elon Moreh because inclement weather has slowed construction of the new settlement at Djebel Kebir. Mattityahu Drobless, head of the Jewish Agency’s Settlement Department, said that there was little chance of completing the work by Jan. 3, the date set by the Cabinet five weeks ago.

Drobless said an additional week or two might be necessary. He said he submits progress reports twice a day to Premier Menachem Begin who has taken a direct interest in the building operation. In an effort to speed it up, Air Force helicopters are lifting heavy earth moving equipment to Djebel Kebir which is perched on a hill top about six miles from Elon Moreh.

The new settlement is being built by the government, the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency to accommodate the Gush Emunim settlers who must abandon Elon Moreh. The Supreme Court ruled last Oct. 22 that the settlement was established illegally on seized Arab lands and ordered its removal within 30 days. A small portion of the land was restored to its Arab owners last month. But the Cabinet allowed the settlers to remain until the end of the year while the new site was prepared on State owned land.

The Elon Moreh settlers have pointedly ignored the work being done on their behalf. They insist that they will not leave voluntarily unless the government introduces legislation barring any future legal challenges to Jewish settlements on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. There is little chance that such a measure could command a majority in either the Cabinet or the Knesset. But the government is anxious to avoid a clash between the settlers and the army.

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