JERUSALEM (Dec. 11)
Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres declared Thursday that Jewish settlement activity in the administered territories is diverting funds from vital national needs. His remarks were condemned by Yoram Aridor, chairman of the Herut Party Secretariat.
Speaking during a visit to Kiryat Bialik near Haifa, Peres said there was no justification for new settlements at a time when the State lacks funds for education, defense and welfare. Aridor countered that Peres and other Labor Party leaders are obliged to honor the Labor-Likud coalition agreement which stipulated that new settlements would be established.
Peres noted that when the agreement was signed in 1984, Labor was not aware of the huge economic problems the country faced.
Aridor also reacted angrily to earlier statements by Peres that settlements were an obstacle to peace. “By our judgement, the settlements are not a problem of the Foreign Ministry but rather part of our internal policy,” he said. He charged that statements like Peres’ invited outside pressure on Israel.