JERUSALEM (Aug. 13)
At an extraordinarily lengthy session of Israel’s Cabinet today– continuing into the evening– the Government considered the issue on freely admitting Arab refugees who had fled into Jordan and now want to return to the Israeli-held west bank of the Jordan River area. The final decision was to continue with the free admission policy
A minority of Cabinet members, including the Ministers representing Gahal — the political fusion of Herut and the Liberal Party — reportedly favored discontinuance of the policy of readmitting those refugees, due to the Jordanian Government’s incitements toward resistance against Israeli authority. A majority of the Cabinet, however, was opposed to a change in the policy, insisting that the refugees must not be made pawns “in the Arab game.” Those ministers favoring the policy of readmission insisted, however, that the returnees be screened for security before they were allowed to enter the West Bank area.
The Cabinet decided to approve United Nations Secretary-General U Thant’s appointment of Ernesto Telemann, former Swiss observer at the United Nations, as the U.N.’s special representative in Jerusalem. Mr. Thant had not yet announced Mr. Telemann’s appointment, but is expected to do so this week. The recent emergency special session of the General Assembly had directed Mr. Thant to name a special representative to report on the situation regarding Jerusalem. Israel does not oppose a Jerusalem fact-finding mission on behalf of the United Nations.
Meanwhile, the Government announced today that access to the holy places in Jerusalem will be open hereafter to Christians of any nationality, including Egyptians. The announcement was made by the Israel Ministry of Religious Affairs in a notice to the Coptic bishop of Jerusalem. However, it was not clear whether the rule admitting Egyptian or other non-Israelis to the holy places would apply to Moslems as well as to Christians.