JERUSALEM (Mar. 14)
Foreign Minister Abba Eban has advised U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk that Israel’s administration of occupied Arab territories is the most lenient possible under the circumstances and that the expropriation of land in East Jerusalem for new housing projects was an urgent necessity in order to provide decent living standards for the population, the independent daily Haaretz reported today. According to Haaretz, Mr. Eban’s statement was contained in an exchange of letters with Mr. Rusk. The latter had written to him urging Israel to exercise “restraint” in the former Arab territories it administer. He also stated that the U.S. does not favor unilateral measures in Jerusalem that might prejudice peace agreements and the city’s “international character,” Haaretz said.
The Rusk letter, according to the newspaper, followed reports that houses were being blown up and extended curfews imposed on Arab villages in the occupied territories. Mr. Eban replied that these were necessary measures taken against terrorists and saboteurs who were acting against the interests of a majority of the population. He said that the return to normal life in the occupied regions and the resumption of farming, trade and crafts testified to the wishes of the population not to be involved in the acts of terrorists whose sole purpose was to disrupt peace and good order.
With regard to Jerusalem, Mr. Eban pointed out that it was a “living city” in addition to being a sacred one. He is also reported to have written that Jerusalem will never be divided again. He called the attention of the Secretary of State to the fact that Israeli law has not been imposed on occupied areas under military governorship, indicating that Israel considers those areas subject to negotiation whenever the Arabs are ready to talk peace.