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Foreign Minister Dayan on the Future of Settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza

(April 24, 1979)

Following the signing of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, senior members of the cabinet explained their views on the future of the settlements in the administered areas. On April 29, speaking to a Herut party meeting, the Prime Minister stated that “the green line no longer exists – it has vanished forever.” He stated that at Camp David he only agreed to a three months halt in setting up new settlements, which expired on December 17, 1978. Agriculture Minister Sharon felt that settlements in Judea and Samaria were vital to the security of Israel’s heartland in the coastal plain. In a meeting with settlers in the Jordan Rift, Foreign Minister Dayan explained his views, excerpts of which follow.

Gaza, even according to the Egyptian view and certainly in the view of all other states, is not a part of Egypt, for after having been part of the territory under the British Mandate which came to an end in 1948, this area was first occupied by Egypt and later taken by Israel from Egypt.

Jordan harbors claims to Judea and Samaria, but no state in the world except Pakistan and Britain has ever recognized Jordan’s sovereignty over these territories. Jordan’s position was that of a conqueror, and when we took Judea and Samaria from Jordan, we in turn became the ruling power. The future of these territories is therefore a matter for negotiation....

With regard to Judea and Samaria, the Camp David Accord provides that no decision should be taken for the time being as to a final settlement. Here a provisional arrangement is made for a five-year transition period which is to commence with the setting up of autonomy. Only at the expiration of this period will negotiations be held as to a final settlement. The final settlement will deal with permanent boundaries, with peace, and with security provisions. This final settlement will be one with the government of Jordan, and this will be a peace settlement in the same way that our settlement in Egypt is a peace settlement.

It follows that there will be two distinct phases of settlement – one, a permanent settlement which is definite peace, and another, an entirely different matter – the autonomy, which is a provisional arrangement, with no definition of boundaries and no peace agreement.

The issue of Jerusalem is not included in the provisional arrangement nor even mentioned in its context, nor is the issue of the Jewish settlements included or mentioned. As is well known, the Arabs are opposed to the establishment of settlements, and we totally reject their opposition. This does not mean that the Arabs will be unable to raise the matter in future negotiations. The matter will in all probability be raised when the permanent settlement comes to be negotiated, but meanwhile, during the transition period, as we have made clear, we are resolved not to discuss it.

During the five-year transition period I think there will be no change in the situation and status of our settlements in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District, or in their bond with Israel. In practice I think there will be no change in the ties, the obligations and rights, and the jurisdiction of the State of Israel to and over yourselves, and no change in your obligations towards Israel; everything, in my opinion, will remain as it is today. And after the expiration of the five-year transition period I cannot conceive any government in power taking a different view of the situation.

Generally, however, things in Judea and Samaria will change, and must change. The military administration will be abolished. The Arab population must manage its life in a more independent way than it does today. No government has imposed the Israeli law on Judea and Samaria, and the present government will not do so during the transition period.

But to the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria this will not matter at all. They will be in no different situation than if they were, not here, but next to Maoz Haim, or Degania, or Nahalal.

To this end it is necessary to lay a water pipeline, to bring in more settlers, and to turn this region into an extension of the Beth-Shean Valley. In other words, it is necessary to establish settlements along the whole length of the Jordan Valley. There is no hindrance to this, since the Camp David Accord provides not only that the Israel Army will be the only armed force in Judea and Samaria, but also that the Israel Army will remain permanently along the Jordan.

The fact that Egypt agreed to the Israel Army remaining along the Jordan does not mean that she agreed to the river Jordan forming the boundary between Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan. As autonomy is a provisional arrangement, it has been agreed that during the transition period no territorial changes will be made and that the Israel Army will remain on guard both within the territories and along the Jordan.

The change which autonomy will bring about will be in status and not in the way of living of the Arab population and of the Jewish settlers.

I cannot imagine that we ought to, or could, continue indefinitely to maintain our relations with the Arab population on the footing of a military administration. This will not work, and it is not necessary. I don’t mean to imply that the Israel government win have no say at all with regard to the Arab population; we live in a real world and I can’t say that we shall under no circumstances and in no case feel obliged to intervene. But we shall intervene only in cases where our intervention is indispensable, in matters affecting not only the life of the Arab population but also our own life here. Anyway, the present regime, under which Israel governs and manages the Arab inhabitants’ affairs by means of a military administration, must be abolished.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.