JERUSALEM (May. 22)
The future status of the West Bank, the most heavily populated territory occupied by Israel in last June’s war and the one with the longest border, is being pondered by Israelis and Arabs alike. Israel’s official policy is that the West Bank is “negotiable” within the framework of formal peace talks. But Minister of Labor Yigal Allon, one of the most prominent members of the coalition Cabinet, today unveiled his own plan for the West Bank which calls for a form of partition of the region between Israel and Jordan. At the same time, West Bank Arab leaders have revived the idea of an autonomous Palestine Arab state on the West Bank which presumably would conclude separate peace arrangements with Israel.
Neither idea has been presented in the form of an official proposal. Gen. Allon, the 1948 war commander of Palmach, the elite striking force of Haganah, published details of his plan here today for the first time. It would incorporate the whole of the Jordan Valley into Israel with the exception of the Judaean and Samarian mountains, the latter to be the subject of negotiations with Jordan. Gen. Allon tested it on a group of professors and intellectuals meeting informally at his home. It received a cool reception.
The creation of a separate Palestinian entity on the West Bank is known to be favored by a number of Arab dignitaries who are opposed to reunification of the region with Jordan. They have been afraid to speak out because of the heavy El Fatah terrorist activity on the West Bank in recent months. But El Fatah incursions have diminished markedly in the past month owing to more effective measures by Israeli security forces, and the plan is being openly advocated again. Last night, Ayoub Mousalem, former Development Minister of Jordan, a native of Bethlehem, addressed students at Tel Aviv University. He said that the first move toward peace must come from the Israelis who should return Palestinians’ property and see that the refugees are returned to their homes and compensated. He said there could be no peace as long as the Palestinian nation feels degraded in the eyes of its Arab brethren.
Mousalem made no mention of a Palestine Arab state. But his appearance and pleading on behalf of the Palestinian Arabs was regarded as significant.
ALLON SAYS JEWS HAVE RIGHT, DUTY TO SETTLE ALL ‘ERETZ ISRAEL’
Gen. Allon based his plan for the West Bank on what he said was the right and duty of Zionists to settle all of “Eretz Israel” with no moral stigma attached. He said the Jordan Valley, which has a population of only 18,000, should be settled by Jews, with a corridor connecting the Judaean and Samarian mountains with the East Bank of the Jordan River. He said that security must have top priority and that although the Hashemite King of Jordan has no historic rights to the West Bank, negotiations with King Hussein or with West Bank leaders should not be ruled out. He stressed that peace treaties alone cannot protect Israel from Arab designs and must be protected by practical means. He thought there was no political wisdom in annexing the whole of the West Bank even if there was an historical justification for doing so. Even West Bank Jewish settlements now being created can be annulled if political expediency requires it, Gen. Allon said. He admitted that his stand has not been approved by the