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New Settlement Set Up in West Bank Had Endorsement of Likud Government

The new Jewish settlement established south of Nablus on Monday appears to have been a calculated act of defiance of U.S. policy by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s government, not the spontaneous reaction of Jews enraged by a terrorist act.

The settlement, called Rahelim, was authorized by the Inner Cabinet at its Nov. 27 meeting and formally approved by Defense Minister Moshe Arens, who said it would be a paramilitary Nahal outpost for the time being.

The widespread belief was that the settlement, consisting initially of two mobile homes, was a hastily set up response to the death of Zvi Klein, a settler from Ofra who was fatally wounded Sunday evening while driving through the Palestinian town of El-Bireh.

But by stressing Tuesday that the settlement had his government’s official stamp of approval, Shamir seemed to be signaling the United States that Israel is determined to pursue its policy of aggressive settlement-building regardless of the added strain it puts on U.S.-Israeli relations and the Middle East peace process.

The United States has tried in vain to convince Israel to freeze settlement building while peace talks are under way.

Addressing a Chanukah torch-lighting ceremony in Modi’in, the ancient home of the Maccabees, Shamir vowed Wednesday that despite obstacles, Israel would emerge victorious in the battle for “Eretz Yisrael,” code words for a Greater Israel encompassing the territories taken in 1967.

Rahelim was named in memory of Rachel Druck, a settler from Shiloh killed in a West Bank bus ambush on Oct. 28, two days before the opening of the U.S.-Soviet sponsored Middle East peace conference in Madrid.

The government’s approval of the new settlement at the ambush site may have been a response to the earlier incident, but not to the death of Klein, who was gunned down four days after the Inner Cabinet decision.

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