JERUSALEM (Aug. 21)
Israel’s Cabinet reaffirmed last night an earlier decision fixing August 31 as the deadline for the return of west bank repatriates to their homes from Jordan to which they fled in the June war. The Cabinet acted after hearing a statement from Foreign Minister Abba Eban that Israel had not received any official request for extension of the deadline.
Premier Levi Eshkol said the Government had already moved the deadline from August 10 to August 31 and that no further extension would be granted. The issue arose after International Red Cross officials told Israeli officials on Friday that it would be impossible to arrange for the return to the west bank of all refugees who have registered for repatriation by the August 31 deadline. Israeli officials expressed readiness to accept returnees at a daily rate of 3,000, but Jordanian officials have lagged far behind in arrangements for return of that number of refugees daily.
Crossings began today at 9 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. as Israeli officials had suggested. Officials here expressed doubt that the Jordanians will manage to bring to the Jordan River for crossing even the 3,000 agreed-upon number each day.