Shamir Vows to Continue Building Settlements All over ‘eretz Yisrael’

Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has once again vowed that nothing would stop Jews from settling everywhere in “Eretz Yisrael,” which includes the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Jewish settlement in all parts of Eretz Yisrael — or Greater Israel — will continue as long as there are Jews and there is empty territory, he told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday. He emphasized there is no part of Eretz Yisrael from which Israel will withdraw.

Shamir also indicated that as far as he is concerned, settlements in the administered territories take precedence over settling the Negev.

But the prime minister played down his government’s confrontation with the United States on the issue of settlements, which the Bush administration views as an obstacle to peace.

Shamir refrained from criticizing the Bush administration.

He cited as an example the U.S. announcement last week that its investigation found no evidence that Israel had transferred Patriot anti-missile technology to China without Washington’s approval.

That statement was “very clear,” he said, and he now regards the matter as “closed.”

Shamir rejected the idea that Jewish settlements in the disputed territories are provocative.

“Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria is provocation only in the eyes of enemies,” Shamir said, using the biblical names for the land comprising the West Bank.

“But those elements also did not want Tel Aviv to be settled,” he added.

“Let there be as many such provocations as possible, and let there be as many settlements as possible in Judea and Samaria,” Shamir said.

When Labor Knesset member Arieh Eliav observed that he lived in the Nitzana region of the Negev where there are thousands of empty acres to be settled, Shamir replied: “Their turn for settlement will come too.”

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