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U.S. Raps Israel’s Settlement Actions As ‘unhelpful to Peace’ but Won’t Say They Are Illegal

February 12, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Reagan Administration today sharply criticized Israel’s settlement activities on the West Bank as “unhelpful to the peace process” but declined to say that the settlements were illegal.

In a statement read to reporters, State Department spokesman William Dyess said “we are deeply concerned” by reports that “the Israeli authorities are seizing or closing off large tracts of land on the West Bank for settlement purposes. Such unilateral actions tend to pre-judge an issue which must be addressed through negotiations. As such, they (the settlements) are unhelpful to the peace process and ill-advised.”

The statement added that both President Reagan and Secretary of State Alexander Haig “have indicated that the continued creation of settlements can only harm the prospects for negotiations.”

The Administration’s statement was apparently referring to a report yesterday that the Military Government on the West Bank has declared some 4000 acres of unregistered land near Nablus to be “state land”, a preliminary to its seizure to facilitiate the expansion of Jewish settlements in the area.

When a reporter asked Dyess if he was saying the settlements were illegal, the State Department spokesman replied, “No, I didn’t say they were illegal.” At a White House meeting with five selected reporters last week, Reagan said he disagreed with the Carter Administration’s characterization of Israeli settlements on the West Bank as illegal.

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