The Israeli Government has decided to take a strong stand against a group of more than fifty religious nationalists who are reported to have settled in the ancient city of Shiloh in the occupied West Bank area.
GV: Israeli cabinet ministers leaving after meeting, Jerusalem (2 shots)
SV: Secretary and Government spokesman Arye Naor speaking to press.
CU AND GV: site of ruins of ancient city of Shiloh, West Bank.
GV: Israeli flags flying while armed guard sites on wall.
GV: water supply being brought in by truck.
GV: armed guards walking around site of ruins (3 shots)
ARYE NAOR: "And the military Government, who has the legal authority to do so, gave the people there the licence to dig in the archaeological locations -- that's all."
REPORTER: "Is there any intention by the Israeli Government to remove the settlers there, if it's found that..."
ARYE NAOR: "They are not, they are not settlers, they are diggers."
REPORTER: "They call themselves settlers....it's very clear from their point of view...."
ARYE NAOR: "I can call myself any names I like, the very fact is that they have a licence only for archaeological diggings. In Shiloh there was an ancient town, some three-thousand and five hundred years ago. They have the licence to find the remains of this ancient town, not to build a new one."
Defence Minister Ezer Weizman has strongly criticised the new inhabitants of Shiloh, saying they have surprised the Government by their action. His reaction clashed with that of Foreign Affairs Minister Moshe Dayan, who told reporters before leaving for an overseas mission that the Shiloh residents were still definitely researchers, and not settlers, and would move once their work was over.
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Background: The Israeli Government has decided to take a strong stand against a group of more than fifty religious nationalists who are reported to have settled in the ancient city of Shiloh in the occupied West Bank area. The group belonging to the Gush Emunim sect, moved into the ancient ruins to start excavating, but is apparently refusing to move out.
SYNOPSIS: The Israeli Cabinet met to discuss just how they could solve the problem, which is causing embarrassment in the light of current Israeli-Egyptian negotiations on settlements, Cabinet spokesman Arye Naor faced a barrage of press questions on just what had been decided regarding the status of the people in Shiloh....were they settlers or diggers?
At the moment there is not much at Shiloh, but the group of archaeologists have made it clear that they intend staying, in spite if warnings that if they do, they will be going against Prime Minister Begin's recent declaration that new Jewish settlements would only be permitted inside existing Israeli army camps.
There is a military presence at Shiloh, but the argument rests on what an army camp as such actually consists of. Israeli soldiers are keeping a close watch on the digging operations, and any of the archaeologists who stray beyond the limits of the ancient city are promptly ushered back to the centre of operations, where they are allowed to get on with their work.