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Shamir Urges More Settlements, but Construction is Slowing Down

Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir called Thursday for “maintaining the enthusiastic intensity” of settlement-building in the administered territories and said the settlements would soon prove a means for Israel to “attain our political goals.”

Herut party settlement activists present at the session with the premier told reporters that in practice, the government appears to be slowing down on new settlement-building, focusing instead on the expansion of existing settlements.

Haim Abudraham, head of the Herut settlement movement, was quoted as saying that for diplomatic reasons, the government seems to be adopting this distinction.

The subject of settlements was also a matter of contention between Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy and Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa, who met with reporters after their bilateral meeting Thursday at the United Nations.

Moussa appealed to the Israelis to put a halt to settlement-building in the West Bank, which he called illegal “in letter and spirit.”

Earlier this week, in a speech to the General Assembly, Moussa had said that continued construction in the administered territories jeopardizes the peace process.

When asked whether Israel would consider a moratorium on settlement-building in exchange for an end to the Arab economic boycott against the Jewish state, Levy replied: “We do not tie the two issues together.”

Moussa interjected some levity into his response when asked whether it was a “cold peace” that existed between the two nations. He responded by saying that he hadn’t heard there was a link between peace and the weather.

Both leaders spoke optimistically about the proposed Middle East peace conference.

(JTA correspondent Jackie Rothenberg at the United Nations contributed to this report.)

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