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State Dept. Says West Bank Can Still Be Returned to Arabs Despite Findings in Survey by Benvenisti

April 2, 1985
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The State Department rejected today a contention that a report issued in Israel showing that the Israeli government now controls 52 percent of the land on the West Bank, means that the area can never be returned to the Arabs.

“As we have said on many occasions, we regard settlement activity in the occupied territories as an obstacle to the peace process,” Department spokesman Bernard Kalb said. “We do not, however, share the view that activities on the ground rule out the possibility of a negotiated settlement.”

Kalb’s remarks came after he refused to comment on a report released in Jerusalem yesterday by the West Bank Data Base Project headed by Meron Benvenisti, a former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem. The study called “Land Alienation on the West Bank: A Legal and Spatial Analysis” charges that the Israeli government has taken control of more than half of the land through questionable legal means which has resulted in leaving Jewish settlers with all of the area available for growth on the West Bank. The West Bank Data Base Project is funded by grants from the Ford and Rockefeller foundations.

Benvenisti was quoted as saying that the data in the report reveals that Israel’s control of the West Bank has gone beyond the point where it can ever be returned to Arab sovereignty.


Kalb said the State Department has not yet seen the report but “we look forward to the opportunity to study the report in detail.” He noted that “the facts brought out by the studies, such as the 1984 report by the West Bank Data Base Project, point to the urgency of achieving a negotiated resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict based on Israel’s return of territory in exchange for a just and durable peace. To this end, we remain committed to the positions set forth in the President’s September 1, 1982 peace initiative.”

Benvenisti’s 1984 report was a detailed study of Israel’s policies on the West Bank which predicted the conclusions of the study released yesterday.

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