Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has called for keeping all of the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River "for future generations and for the mass immigration" of Soviet Jews.
The statement Sunday to members of his right-wing Likud bloc in Tel Aviv was similar to a statement he made last January. His call then for retaining the war-won occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip set off an international protest.Israel captured the territories in the 1967 Middle East war from Jordan and Egypt. Palestinians have been waging a nearly three-year uprising aimed at freeing the land from Israeli control.
The United States has repeatedly called for a land-for-peace settlement in the region and has insisted on Israeli guarantees that U.S.-backed loans for the Soviet immigrants not be used in the occupied lands or Arab east Jerusalem.
Shamir was quoted by Israel radio as telling a Sunday memorial service for deceased Likud politicians: "The party leaders left us a clear message to keep the land of Israel from the sea to the Jordan (River) for future generations and for the mass immigration and for the Jewish people, most of whom will be gathered into this country."
After the speech, Shamir denied he was returning to his earlier theme of "a greater Israel" to accommodate the thousands of arriving Soviet Jews, Israeli newspapers said. At least 120,000 Soviet Jews have arrived so far this year, and a million are expected by the end of 1992.
"There is no connection whatever between our maintaining the territorial integrity of Eretz Israel (the land of Israel) between the sea and the Jordan River - which is a vital security necessity for the state of Israel - and the mass immigration, which is the fulfillment of the great Zionist dream," the Jerusalem Post quoted him as saying.
It is not the first time Shamir has made a strong statement followed quickly by a "clarification."
In August, the prime minister hinted in a speech to American Jewish contributors that Israel would consider a pre-emptive strike on Iraq.
"In the circumstances our major task is to prevent war, or to pre-empt it and if, heaven forbid, these two fail, and there is no alternative, we have to win quickly and decisively," he said in his speech.
Questioned later by reporters, Shamir denied Israel was considering a pre-emptive strike.