INTRODUCTION: The Israeli Minister for Agriculture, Mr.
GV ZOOM SCU Israeli Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon on tour at Jewish settlement of Kalkilya.
SV PAN Sharon carrying maps and plans walking on hilltop near settlements.
SV Israeli soldier on guard.
SV Sharon speaking.
GV & SV Israelis touring settlement. (3 SHOTS)
GV Settlements on hilltops between Nablus and Kalkilya. (2 SHOTS)
GV & SV Settlements being built. (3 SHOTS)
GV PAN Kedumin settlement on hillside.
SV Israeli soldiers in jeep.
GV & SV Children playing on settlement. (2 SHOTS)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: The Israeli Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Ariel Sharon, has predicted that one-million Jews will be living on the West Bank of the River Jordan by the year two-thousand. Mr. Sharon, who has masterminded the Israeli settlement programme on the West Bank over the past four years also promised a new push to increase the Israeli presence in the area.
SYNOPSIS: Mr. Sharon was speaking on Tuesday (24 March), to journalists near the West Bank outpost of Ariel. His aim was to point out the area's strategic importance. The Minister told the journalists that between the coast and the hills where they stood lived 60 percent of Israel's population all well within artillery range.
Under Mr. Sharon's direction the Jewish population on the West Bank has almost trebled in the past four years. In 1977 about seven-thousand Jews lived there. Today they number some nineteen thousand. The indigenous Arabs number some six-hundred thousand. Mr. Sharon is hoping there'll be 20-thousand Jewish inhabitants by June the thirtieth - the date of the Israeli elections.
To bring home its message to the voters the ruling right-wing Likud coalition is taking them on subsidised tours of the new villages. It's expecting more than three-hundred-thousand voters - nearly one tenth of the population - to accept the invitation. They're seeing the situation for themselves.
Having established more than 40 new settlements on the West Bank since 1977 the government is promising the electorate to have another 10 fully operational by polling day.
Behind the government's strategy is the feeling that the opposition Labour Party is vulnerable over the settlements because of deep-seated divisions between "hawks" and "doves". Mr. Sharon says the settlement programme must continue and those settlements established on the West Bank will never be vacated.