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Begin Denounces Gush Emunim

May 8, 1979
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Premier Menachem Begin denounced the Gush Emunim yesterday as a group of “liars afflicted by a Messiah complex” and vowed that they would not dictate to the government when or where settlements should be established Begin made those remarks in the course of a Cabinet discussion about a group of squatters in the West Bank town of Hebron. But he appeared to be reacting to recent Gush attacks against his policies rather than their claim to settlement anywhere on the West Bank with which the Premier has always concurred.

He stressed that his government has already put up nearly 30 settlements in the occupied territories and therefore the Gush charges that he was a “trail or” were vicious and unjustified. “They might be very Orthodox but some of them are liars,” Begin declared.

The Cabinet discussion concerned a group of women from the religious township of Kiryat Arba a Gush stronghold adjacent to Hebron, who have illegally occupied the old Hadassah Hospital building in the Arab town. Begin and a majority of the Cabinet agreed to Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon’s request that two young children be allowed to join their mothers and 40 other children who have been in the building for a week. But the Cabinet rejected another proposal by Sharon that a teacher be sent to the building to conduct classes.

Begin urged the squatters to leave peacefully. He said the government would not tolerate the illegal seizure of property whether in Hebron or Tel Aviv and warned he would use force to remove them if given no alternative.

JERUSALEM WILL REMAIN UNITED

In another action yesterday, the Cabinet issued a statement saying that “Jerusalem is the eternal, united, indivisible capital of the State of Israel,” and noted that since the end of the Jordanian occupation of the eastern part of the city followers of all religions have free access to their places of worship.

The statement was in response to an Egyptian Foreign Ministry statement Friday calling on the Islamic conference in Morocco this week to focus its attention on re-establishing. Arab control over East Jerusalem. The Cabinet declared that unlike the period of the Jordanian occupation in Jerusalem there exists total freedom of access for Jews, Christians and Moslems to their holy places. Thus shall it always be.”

(In New York, Henry Siegman, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, criticized the proposal by Egypt for an Islamic summit conference to discuss “liberation” of the “Arab sector” of Jerusalem. he declared that Jews “respect the religious sentiments evoked by the city of Jerusalem among the Moslem faithful,” adding it is a sentiment that “resonates the ancient Jewish hope that Jerusalem become ‘a house of prayer for all people.’ That religious sensibility is badly served by provocative calls for the ‘liberation of Jerusalem’. “Siegman added, “More than any other country, Egypt has reason to know that Moslem interests are for better served by peaceful discussion than by resort to the rhetoric of violence.”)

The Cabinet also discussed security arrangements for West Bank settlements in the aftermath of recent clashes between local Arabs and Jewish settlers. Defense Minister Ezer Weizman assured Education Minister Zevulun Hammer of the National Religious Party that the army was in full control of the situation and would not tolerate vigilante action by armed Jewish settlers.

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