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West Bank Settlers Accuse Government of Preventing Ethiopian Immigrants from Settling in That Territ

May 8, 1985
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West Bank settlers are accusing the government of preventing Ethiopian immigrants from settling in that territory for political reasons. The government has rejected the charges. Otniel Schneller, secretary of the Council of Jewish Settlements in Judaea and Samaria, said today that they have been trying for some time to induce the immigrants, nearly 10,000 of whom came to Israel by airlift from Sudan between November, 1984 and January, 1985, to settle across the “green line” — but to no avail. He charged that Absorption Minister Yaacov Tzur was the main obstacle.

According to Schneller, there are some 250 unoccupied flats in 10 settlements on the West Bank which could house the Ethiopian Jews at a saving of millions of dollars for the financially strapped Treasury. He said government opposition was a “Zionist scandal.”

Schneller said the immigrants were not moved to the West Bank partly because the Americans do not want their funds spent in the territories. He did not amplify that statement but asserted it was “about time that Israel behaved as an independent country, not as a protectorate.”

Tzur has rejected the charges. He said there was no way the government could prevent the Ethiopians from settling on the West Bank if they wanted to. “This is a free country,” he said. He suggested that the accusations against the government stemmed from the difficulties the West Bank settlers were having in attracting new people to the territories.

Several families who came here from Ethiopia several years ago live in Kiryat Arba, a Jewish town adjacent to Hebron.

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