JERUSALEM (Nov. 24)
Arab reaction appeared divided today on the terrorist bombing in the crowded marketplace which occurred while many Jews were doing Sabbath shopping. Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem, who cut short a visit to the United States and rushed home when he heard the news, praised East Jerusalem’s only Arabic newspaper, Al Kuds, which denounced the bombing as an outrage that “shook the foundations” of the city and “the conscience of every inhabitant, Arab and Jew, who desires peace and hates the killing of innocent people.” But Arab notables and civic leaders of East Jerusalem have been silent so far. They were criticized by Deputy Mayor Mordecai Ish Shalom for failing to condemn the bombing or to express sympathy for families of its victims.
Mayor Kollek warned yesterday that if acts of sabotage continued, East Jerusalem’s economy would be seriously impaired and many Arabs would lose their means of livelihood. “If the terror continues,” he said at a city council meeting, “Jews will not go to East Jerusalem markets, Arabs will not be permitted to work in the Western part of the city and tourists will no longer be directed to East Jerusalem.” Arab trade union leaders of East Jerusalem and Jaffa Issued a statement today denouncing those responsible for the bombing as “blood-thirsty cowards whose aim is to deepen hatred and remove understanding and peace from our region.” Other Arabs who joined in condemning the act were the Moslem religious trustees of Acre, a mixed Arab-Jewish town on the north shore of Haifa Bay. A Nazareth Arab labor leader, Eldin Elzuabi, head of the Arab faction of the Mapam Party, also denounced the bombing. Meanwhile, two Arab guerrilla organizations, El Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, each claimed credit for it. In a broadcast from Beirut heard here, the Popular Front said the bombing was “retaliation for Israeli terrorist actions against our people.” The group also claimed credit for past bomb explosions in Jerusalem, Hebron and Tel Aviv.
According to reports from Amman today, Jordanian officials were skeptical of the guerrilla claims and suggested that the bombing was the work of “Israeli extremists” who were trying to block proposals that Arabs who fled the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the wake of the June, 1967 war, be allowed to return to their homes. The extremists’ aim, according to the Amman officials, was to convince the Israeli public that refugee repatriation would endanger their security.