Israel reacted angrily today to the U.N. Sccurity Council resolution condemning Jewish civilian settlements in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. It called the resolution "unjustified and one-sided" and U.S. support of the measure was a "deep disappointment."
Jerusalem's heaviest snowstorm in 10 years insolated the city and prevented the Cabinet from meeting to discuss the resolution, but the ministers are scheduled to take up the issue Tuesday. The debate will coincide with a scheduled Cabinet decision on whether Israel should implement its recent decision to permit Israel settlement in the center of the exclusively Arab city of Hebron in the West Bank.
The Foreign Ministry, in a statement by spokesman Michael Shiloh, responded to the unanimous Security Council vote by declaring that "settlement in the West Bank is not only a right but an integral part of our security system."
[In Cairo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Butros Ghali said, "The Decision shows that the United Nations supports our policy and our attempts to achieve self-determination for the Palestinians," according to a statement carried by the official Middle East Nes Agency.]
Since the 1967 war, Israel has built approximately 100 settlements in the occupied territories, with an estimated population of about 9,000. They have ranged in size from the 550 family urban development at Kiryat Arba, near Hebron, to tiny outposts like Elon Moreh, near Nablus, which appear to be little more than a facade to establish a legal presence in an Arab area.
"Such a one-sided resolution cannot serve the peace process going on between Israel and Egypt," Shiloh said, adding that the government "deeply" regrets the U.S. vote on the issue.
"We've known the position of the United States against settlements for a long time, but for the past two years the United States has abstained on much milder [U.N.] resolutions," he said. The United States has long charged that Israel's settlement policy violates international law and is an obstacle to Middle East peace.
Deputy Prime Minister Simcha Ehrlich called the resolution "a serious shock" and said a review should be made of Israel's "actions and public statements" on settlements.
Other ministers' reactions ranged from Justice Minister Shmuel Tamir's cautious appeal for a reexamination of the priority level of the outposts, to Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon's demand that Israel reply to the United Nations by approving more settlements and permitting Israeli settlers to live in Hebron.
"We have to make it clear we can't tolerate this resolution," Sharon said.
Cabinet members on Tuesday are likely to be divided between Sharon's plan for extensive Jewish settlement in Hebron and more moderate recommendations that the government estalish a token presence there, such as a religious school for Israeli soldiers.
Tamir said, "We have to draws some conclusions about the pace, timing and location of the settlements," Education Minister Zevulun Hammer said the Security Council revealed a "lack of understanding of Israel's security needs and its desire to carry out the ideals of Zionism."
While officials were reluctant to suggest a motive for the United States vote, there was a growing feeling here today that the Carter administration is making a desperate bid to put together an alliance between the United States and the Arab countries to isolate the Soviet Union and force it to withdraw from Afghanistan. There is also a widespread belief that the vote reflected the U.S. dependence on Arab oil and stemmed from Carter's nervousness about a possible energy crisis in an election year.