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Cabinet Member Tells Religious Group They Can Remain in Hebron

May 14, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A group of religious settlers who want to re-establish the Jewish community in Hebron, was promised by a Cabinet minister today that the Government would not force them to leave the West Bank town even though the Military Governor has forbidden them to buy property there. The settlers have rented a hotel in Hebron and Dr. Zerah Warhaftig, Minister of Religious Affairs and a member of the National Religious Party, told them that at worst, the Cabinet would allow the present situation to continue without giving formal approval to their plans. There has been no Jewish community in Hebron since 1936.

The episode has created a touchy problem for the Government at home with possible ramifications abroad. On the one hand, Israel has made it clear that it will retain firm control over the occupied Arab territories until a peace settlement has been achieved with the Arab states. But the Government wants to avoid actions that might give credence to Arab complaints in the United Nations and elsewhere that it is annexing the occupied regions. Pressure has built up in the Cabinet where Labor Minister Yigal Allon has stated his support for the would-be settlers in Hebron. They are also supported by Menachem Beigin, leader of the Herut Party and Minister Without Portfolio in the coalition government, who advocates Israel’s permanent retention of the occupied lands.

A spokesman for the Hebron group told newsmen today that they are in contact with Mr. Allon and Mr. Beigin who have been “very helpful.” He also denied a charge by Sheikh Mohammed All Jaabari, Mayor of Hebron, that they had threatened him. The Mayor made the charge last week in an open letter to Prime Minister Eshkol and Defense Minister Dayan in which he demanded they leave Hebron. The spokesman said that a delegation representing the Hebron settlers had met with Mayor Jaabari but made no threats. He said he had the minutes of the meeting to prove it.

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