Menu JTA Search

Ben Gurion Announces Easing of Military Restrictions on Arabs

Easing of military restrictions on Arabs in border areas, and initiation of important development projects in areas largely inhabited by Arabs, were announced here today by Prime Minister David Ben Gurion. He made the announcement after a three-hour meeting with the Arab members of the Israeli Parliament.

Some of the military restrictions have already been modified, but others will be eased considerably, Mr. Ben Gurion stated. The development projects, to cost more than 1, 000, 000 Israeli pounds, will include four irrigation schemes to aid agriculture in the Arab-populated areas.

The Prime Minister told the members of Parliament also that the Government has ordered a change in handling income from abandoned Arab properties which formerly belonged to Moslem religious institutions. The custodian of these properties has been instructed, the Prime Minister said, to turn the revenue over to local Moslem religious communities to aid them in meeting cultural and religious needs.

Mr. Ben Gurion announced that more than 3, 000 claims for compensation for abandoned Arab lands have been settled, the claimants receiving about 4, 500, 000 Israeli pounds in cash and about 20, 000 dunams of land. In addition, he said, economic rehabilitation is under way for 20, 000 former Arab refugees who have returned to Israel.

The problem of the educated Arabs is also being met, Mr. Ben Gurion stated. More and more of them, he said, are being absorbed in public service and in the country’s economy. Steps have been taken, he added, to insure employment of Arab graduates of high schools and universities in the offices of the various Government ministries, and not merely in those offices that deal with Arab affairs alone.

Mr. Ben Gurion made one request of the Arab members of Parliament. He asked them to try to get more Moslem girls enrolled in public schools. Under Israel’s compulsory education law, all Moslem children, girls as well as boys, are supposed to go to school. Moslem boys observe the law. Girls, however, are often kept out of school in accordance with ancient Moslem tradition. About 60 percent of the Moslem girls in Israel go to school–whereas in Arab countries, female school attendance ranges from none at all to about 30 percent.

Today, Histadrut Secretary-General Pinhas Lavon, addressing a cornerstone-laying ceremony at the dedication of a new building for the Israel Federation of Labor in the all-Arab city of Nazareth, announced that, in the very near future, Arabs will be admitted to full membership in Histadrut. The Federation had been originally the “Jewish” trade union movement, but is now becoming all-Israeli.

NEXT STORY