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Arens: Settlement Policies Can Spur Arabs to Come to Negotiating Table

April 26, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Defense Minister Moshe Arens claimed today that the government’s settlement policies could spur Arab leaders to come to the negotiating table. Opposition Knesset members sharply disagreed. But a full-scale Knesset debate on the issue was deferred because many MKs on both sides were absent. Arens defended the latest settlement, Beracha, overlooking the Arab city of Nablus on the West Bank, which stirred a bitter controversy in Israel when it was transformed from a military (Nahal) outpost to a civilian settlement on April 18. Arens maintained that Beracha was of major strategic importance to Israel.

He rejected the opposition view that the proliferation of Jewish settlements close to large Arab population centers was provocative and would aggravate relations between Israelis and Palestinians on the West Bank. According to Arens the proximity of Jewish settlements to Arab towns would foster co-existence.

Arens claimed that the Likud government’s policy of rapid and widespread settlement in the occupied territories created a sense of urgency among Arab leaders, especially King Hussein of Jordan, and was likely to draw them into negotiations with Israel. He said the U.S. shared that view. He noted that Hussein refused to negotiate with past Labor-led governments which had limited settlements in the territory.

Replying to an agenda motion supporting the Likud policies, Labor MK Yaacov Tzur said the government’s massive settlement drive was aimed at annexation, not negotiation because it would leave nothing to negotiate. He observed that the government was “positively jubilant” when King Hussein decided not to enter the peace talks, despite U.S. urging. He said the government acted as if peace talks were only in Jordan’s interest, not Israel’s.

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