Israel Reacts to US Action on Settlements

ISRAELI Foreign Minister Moshe Arens criticized the United States yesterday for coordinating with Arab states in drafting a United Nations resolution opposing settlement of Soviet Jews in Israeli-occupied areas. ``I am troubled by the activity of the United States when the Arab countries raise in the UN Security Council the issue of immigration from the Soviet Union,'' Mr. Arens told Israel Radio.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Amihud said Israel objected to the US effort to formulate a resolution because it encouraged ``the Arab attack on the right of Jews to immigrate to Israel.''

Israel expects 100,000 Soviet Jewish immigrants this year. Arab states were alarmed that large numbers would settle in the disputed territories after Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said in January: ``For the big immigration, we need a big Israel.''

A key paragraph of the working draft composed by nonaligned and Arab states claims settlement violates international law. This is a stronger wording than the US position, which says settlements are an obstacle to peacemaking.

``Israel's policy and practices of settling part of its population and new immigrants in those [occupied] territories are in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention ... and it is a serious obstruction to achieving a just and lasting peace in the Middle East,'' the Arab draft says.

Israeli officials say there is no policy of settling immigrants in occupied lands and no basis to suggest settlement is illegal under conventions governing the conduct of occupying powers.

The draft grew out of a call in March by the Soviet Union for a debate on the settlement of Soviet Jews in the occupied territory.

Israeli officials said the US should veto the resolution because it was part of a ``political warfare'' being waged by Arabs, who are opposed to all immigration to Israel.

In the past, the US has vetoed most anti-Israel resolutions, but officials said the US is seeking agreed-on language with the Arabs.

Mr. Shamir is expected to form a right-wing coalition government next week with small ultranationalist and religious parties which is likely to step up settlement in the occupied lands.

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