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Jewish Settlements Not Necessary for Israel’s Security, Rabin Asserts

August 17, 1993
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Jewish settlements in the administered territories are not critical to Israel’s security and may even get in the way of it, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin told a group of Jewish leaders here.

His remarks Sunday to a State of Israel Bonds delegation seemed part of a stepped-up campaign by Rabin to distance himself from Jewish settlers as they intensify their protests of his government’s foreign policy and plans for the territories.

Indeed, Rabin’s comments came on the same day the settlers met with President Ezer Weizman to complain of efforts by the government to delegitimize their struggle.

Rabin recalled the Yom Kippur War, in which the Golan Heights settlements had to be evacuated and the residents “interfered with the activity of our military forces. They were innocent targets” for the enemy,” he said.

He emphasized that it is the military, not the settlers, which must decide what is necessary for Israel’s security.

Rabin disclosed that following the recent visit to the region by U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Russian planes began delivering Scud missiles to Syria, probably for use by Syria and Iran.

He also said it appears the Lebanese army has been deployed to quell tensions along the border with Israel at a lesser rate than had originally been thought. He said that was evidence of Syria’s failure to disarm Hezbollah guerrillas.


Also addressing the Bonds group was Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the opposition Likud party. He proposed stretching out the interim Palestinian autonomy arrangement in the Gaza Strip for at least 20 years. Under the 1978 Camp David accords, only a five-year interim period was envisioned.

Netanyahu said that on the Golan Heights, he would make a “functional arrangement” with Syria, predicated upon concrete proof by President Hafez Assad that Syria is not a threat to Israel’s security.

He said his approach to Syria would “end up with a much better position for Israel than the current position that says, ‘have all or most of the Golan.”

His remark drew applause from his listeners.

In Gaza, said Netanyahu, the residents, unlike those of the West Bank, “are not citizens of any country,” therefore posing a special problem. “I would not propose to define the final status of these Arabs for the next 20 years. I wouldn’t touch it.”

“I would say run your daily lives, (while) we will have security, we will have security, we will have sovereign control. But I will not make a determination about Gaza because it is fundamentally different,” he said. “It is also less vital for our security concerns and is more important from the political” perspective.

The Golan, on the other hand, is strategic territory, he said. Before making any agreement with Syria, he said he would tell Assad, “Move your army, reduce your army and we’ll talk about other arrangements vital to your survival, such as water.”

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