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Administration Expresses ‘regret’ over Report Israel Plans 5 New Settlements on West Bank

The Reagan Administration expressed “regret” today over a report that Israel plans to establish five new settlements in the West Bank.

State Department deputy spokesman Alan Romberg said the U.S. “position is clear: we regard settlements as an obstacle to peace.” Romberg once again quoted from President Reagan’s speech of September I, 1982 announcing his Middle East 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 added, “The President also asserted that the position the United States will support in negotiations is ‘self-government by the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza in association with Jordan’.”

The spokesman was responding to a report from Jerusalem that the Israeli government has decided to establish five more settlements, three near Jericho, one in the northern part of the West Bank and the fifth near Nablus. The report said that a source told Israel Radio that the three settlements near Jericho were being planned to hinder any future proposal to return the area to Jordanian control.

Romberg, noting this, said the President, in his Mideast initiative, stressed that United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 “with its formula for territory for peace, applies to ‘all fronts,’ specifically including the West Bank and Gaza.”

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