NEW YORK (Feb. 1)
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir assured an American Jewish organizational leader Thursday that Israel “is not encouraging Soviet Jews to settle in the West Bank or Gaza.”
Seymour Reich, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, telephoned Shamir on Thursday morning and later said he was convinced it was not Israeli policy to “intentionally” settle the Soviet immigrants in the administered territories.
Shamir “has never called for settlement of Soviet Jews beyond the so-called Green Line –that is, in Gaza or the West Bank,” Reich said. “The prime minister’s views on the territories are well known — but he has never linked that issue with the settlement of Soviet Jews.”
Shamir is a proponent of a “Greater Israel” and does not believe the West Bank and Gaza Strip should be surrendered as part of a peace settlement.
He caused a diplomatic furor recently when he said that the flood of Soviet immigrants requires a “big Israel.” His comments were interpreted as implying that the Israeli government would settle the Soviets on the West Bank and in Gaza.
Shamir’s fellow Likud member, Minister of Construction and Housing David Levy, has, in fact, proposed the construction of new housing units on the West Bank. Officials from the Labor Party have strongly objected to Levy’s proposal.