Israel will go ahead with plans to build eight new Jewish settlements in the occupied lands this year despite the Palestinian uprising and a slashed budget, an adviser to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said Monday.
Michael Dekel, the prime minister's adviser on settlements, said there was no shortage of "idealistic pioneers" to develop five new settlements in the West Bank and three in the southern Gaza Strip.The coalition agreement signed by the new government of Shamir's right-wing Likud bloc and the center-left Labor Party calls for the building of five to eight Jewish settlements.
Dekel said he hoped the government's economic austerity plan, which cut more than $600 million from the state budget, would not take a toll on the settlement movement.
About 70,000 Jewish settlers already live in the West Bank and Gaza, which Israel seized during the 1967 Middle East war.
Also today, an Arab mukhtar, or traditional village leader, was stabbed to death in the occupied West Bank village of Beit Lid, a military spokeswoman said Monday.