Israel lifts restrictions on Jewish settlement
August 2, 1996
Web posted at: 3:00 p.m. EDT
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu's new hard-line government cleared the way Friday
for expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and Gaza
Strip, effectively reversing building restrictions imposed in
the area four years ago.
"The previous government placed chains and bonds upon the
natural development of settlements," Cabinet Secretary Danny
Naveh quoted the prime minister as saying. "It was clear this
situation was unacceptable to us."
Israeli government spokesman Moshe Fogel
explains the decision
(128K AIFF or WAV sound)
The government said the decision won't automatically signal a
massive influx of settlers, and that any plans to build new
settlements would have to win special government approval.
But it clearly means settler communities will no longer feel
constrained about permitting new settlers to move into
neighborhoods or seeking permission for big new housing
complexes in their towns and villages.
About 145,000 settlers live in the West Bank and Gaza, amid 2
million Palestinians who hope to establish an independent
state there. The Palestinians view the settlements as an
obstacle to peace.
Friday's Cabinet decision was vague in many respects and
appeared aimed at satisfying the settlers while not
infuriating Arabs ahead of Netanyahu's planned meeting on
Monday with Jordan's King Hussein, Israel's partner to a 1994
Palestinians and Israeli peace activists denounced the
Cabinet decision, saying it violated the peace agreement.
Under a 1993 interim peace accord with Arafat's PLO, Israel
agreed to negotiate the future of the settlements in
"final-status" talks that began in May before the elections
but have yet to resume under Netanyahu.
Likud leader Netanyahu dislodged Labor party prime minister
Shimon Peres in May's general election, promising to lift
both the freeze on new settlements and limits on existing
ones imposed by the Labor-led government in 1992.
CNN Correspondent Jerrold Kessel and Reuters contributed to this report.
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