JERUSALEM (Mar. 21)
The Cabinet decided secretly yesterday to convert eight military encampments on the West Bank into civilian settlements. The decision, leaked to the press today, was taken at a time when the United States and other countries have been urging a freeze on settlements on the West Bank as a step toward bringing Jordan into negotiations for a broad peace settlement in the Middle East. A settlement freeze is part of President Reagan’s Middle East peace initiative announced last September 1.
One of the planned new settlements, called Bracha, is situated on peak of Mt. Grizim, over- looking Nablus, the largest Arab city on the West Bank. The decision confirmed earlier reports that the government intends to build a Jewish city adjacent to Nablus, similar to Kiryat Arba overlooking Hebron.
The other settlements approved were Tel Hayim, also in the Nablus region, Maale Levona, Ein Kinya, and Ras Karkar, near the large Arab town of Ramallah, and Hermesh and Rogal in northern Samaria. Another 15 new settlements are expected to be populated within the next year.