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U.S. Says Decision to Rebuild Old Jewish Quarter of Hebron is Not ‘helpful’ to the Peace Process

The Reagan Administration asserted today that the Israeli government’s decision to rebuild the old Jewish quarter of Hebron was not “helpful” to the peace process.

“We do not consider plans to build settlements in Hebron to be helpful in achieving an atmosphere on the West Bank conducive to the peace process,” State Department deputy spokesman Alan Romberg said.

The decision on Hebron was made by the Israel Cabinet yesterday in the wake of the murder by Arabs last week in central Hebron of a 19-year-old American-born yeshiva student, Aharon Gross. The State Department on Friday condemned the murder as well as the apparent retaliatory burning of the Hebron central market, reportedly by Jewish militants.

Romberg, in his remarks today, repeated President Reagan’s statement in his September I peace initiative in which Reagan said “further settlement activity is in no way necessary for the security of Israel and only diminishes the confidence of the Arabs that a final outcome can be freely and fairly negotiated.”

Romberg did not appear to see any difference in rebuilding what had once been the Jewish quarter of Hebron until the 1929 massacres and the new settlements being created on the West Bank.

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