Jewish Settlements Face Bankruptcy Unless Drastic Steps Are Taken

Dozens of Jewish settlements in the administered territories may go bankrupt unless drastic steps are taken, Nissim Zvilli, head of the Jewish Agency’s settlement department, warned at the weekly session of the Agency’s Executive yesterday.

Zvilli said that despite the difficult economic situation, the department was dealing simultaneously with three problems — the establishment of new settlements, preventing the collapse of existing settlements and future planning.

He said the choice is almost “impossible,” and therefore one must chose between the desire to set up new settlements, and the wish to preserve existing ones. Zvilli said his department prepared a salvage plan to help needy settlements, but that it did not enjoy sufficient cooperation by government agencies.

FIVE-YEAR PLAN FOR GALILEE URGED

Regarding future planning, Zvilli said the department undertook upon itself agricultural research and development, without which the settlements in the Jordan Valley would not be able to exist for long. He also urged the Executive to prepare a five-year development plan for the Galilee, which would double the population in the rural settlements there.

Matityahu Drobless, the number-two ranking official in the settlement department, said that since the beginning of the decade, some 200 new settlements were established throughout Eretz Yisrael, on both sides of the green line. The green line is the point between Israel proper and the occupied territories captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Drobless continued, saying that the current rate of building new settlements was only equivalent to the first four years of the Jewish State. He also urged the Executive to enlarge the budget of the settlement department, currently at $70 million, to allow the department ” to cope with the challenges of the future.”

Avi Levy, director of the special Jewish Agency project for settlements in the Galilee, the Negev and the Arava, told the Executive that the Jewish Agency would invest some $30 million in social and welfare projects in 60 new settlements, in order to raise the standard of living in those places, and putan end to the existing trend of emigration to the center of the country.

Levy asserted that some 105 such projects were already completed or were in the process of completion, with another 80 still waiting for potential financial contributors. The proposed projects include public libraries, youth clubs, swimming pools, sports installations, and public halls. Special efforts are underway to open day care nurseries in lookout posts in the Galilee, to allow mothers to go out and work, in the absence of employment opportunities in the look-out posts themselves.

NEW ARAVA SETTLEMENTS REQUESTED

Residents of the Arava meanwhile, demanded today that alongside every settlement that will be built in the future in the West Bank, a new settlement will also be built in the Arava.

That this provision be made part of the guidelines of a national unity government was requested by a representative of Kibbutz Yotveta in the Arava who met today with Deputy Premier-designate Yitzhak Navon.

The Kibbutz representative protested that only settlements in the administered territories were subject to coalition negotiations, whereas both sides — Labor and Likud — ignored the settlements in the Arava. Navon promised to raise the issue before the new government.

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