Cabinet Asked to Reconsider Move to Establish Two New Settlements on Disputed Land in West Bank

Justice Minister Moshe Nissim asked the Cabinet today to reconsider yesterday’s decision by the Ministerial Settlement Committee to establish two new settlements on disputed land in the West Bank. Attorney General Yitzhak Zamir has also intervened.

Nissim questioned the legality of the decision because ownership of the land allotted for the settlements has not been determined by the courts. The settlements, to be known as Neriya and Yaarit, are slated for western Samaria. Nissim’s concern stems from several cases in which developers sold West Bank land to Israeli customers who discovered later that it did not legally belong to them.

As a result of such scandals, the government tightened controls over West Bank land sales to protect buyers. But the Ministerial Settlement Committee, chaired by Science Minister Yuval Neeman, acted yesterday, for the first time, without ascertaining the legal status of the land involved.

The committee also approved three other new settlements–Hachlili near Hebron, Migdalim in eastern Samaria, and Adam, north of Jerusalem. These and other settlements serve as bedroom communities for Israelis who live on the West Bank and work in Israel. But financial difficulties must be overcome before they can be built.

Matityahu Drobless, co-chairman of the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Department, said it would be impossible to establish Hachlili and Migdalim without more government aid.

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