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Jewish Settlement in Hebron Expanded

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The Jewish settlement within the Arab town of Hebron was enlarged last night when four caravans were brought in without advance warning to a hilltop inside the town overlooking the old Jewish cemetery, and four families arrived to occupy them.

The surreptitious move was made with the approval of Defense Minister Moshe Arens, the settlers said. They explained the sudden and secret move as an attempt to prevent any application to the Supreme Court to stop the move.

The caravans were sited on the Tel Rumeida hill, on a half acre of land which belonged to the Jewish community of Hebron before the 1929 massacre. The site is within a hundred meters of Arab houses.

Science and Development Minister Yuval Neeman, the leader of Tehiya and chairman of the Ministerial Settlement Committee, hailed the establishment of the “new settlement.” But when Neeman was queried about the propriety of such a move by a caretaker government he back-tracked, saying it was not really a “new settlement” but the expansion of other Jewish quarters a few hundred meters away.

Arab Hebron remained quiet this morning, though local leaders have expressed fears as to the effect of the new move on tempers within the town.

The army appeared taken by surprise, though soldiers were quickly moved in to help string barbed wire and to protect the four families, who are to be joined by others in more caravans expected there shortly.

Peace Now spokesmen denounced the move as soon as it became known yesterday. And today, Mordechai Bar-On, a new Knesset member on the Citizens Rights Movement list, appealed to Labor Party chairman Shimon Peres to make the removal of the caravans a condition for continued talks with Likud. Bar-On said the CRM could not support any part or coalition which continued settlements in the West Bank. The CRM, led by Shulamit Aloni, won three Knesset seats in last month’s elections.

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