JERUSALEM (Dec. 16)
Truck traffic between Jordan and the West Bank will resume Tuesday via the Allenby and Damiya Bridges but will be limited to trucks carrying perishable cargoes. The arrangement was worked out between West Bank farmers and Brig. Gen. Raphael Vardi, military governor of the Judaea and Samaria regions. Vehicular traffic between the West Bank and Jordan was banned recently as a security measure. As a result commerce came to a standstill.
Senior Israeli and Jordanian officers met in the middle of Allenby Bridge Friday to discuss resumption of traffic and other “humanitarian” matters. The meeting was arranged by the International Red Cross. The Jordanian representative was Col. Mohammed Daoud, former chief Jordanian delegate to the Israel-Jordan mixed armistice commission. No details of the talks were disclosed.
Moves to relax the ban which has created hardships for West Bank merchants and farmers got underway last week. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan met with heads of the chambers of commerce of various West Bank towns. He said afterwards that commercial traffic might be resumed if those responsible for it pledged not to violate Israeli security regulations. The immediate cause of the ban was the explosion in Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda market place Nov. 22 which took 12 lives. Israeli authorities believe the explosives were smuggled from Jordan concealed in a produce truck. As a result, all trucks have been required to unload their cargoes for inspection on each bank of the river. The freight is then transferred by porter to the opposite bank for reloading. The cumbersome and costly system led to a complete halt to trade. Resumption of the traffic will be limited to a few dozen trucks compared to the 300-400 that crossed both spans daily before the ban.
The Agriculture Ministry, meanwhile, announced plans to make West Bank farmers independent of exports to Jordan. Ariel Amiad, the director-general, told West Bank Arab farmers that arrangements could be made for their products to be exported to Europe, particularly in the Jericho region where vegetables and fruits are grown during the winter season. He said there was a large demand for such farm products in northern European countries and that Israel itself might use some of that production, mainly for its canning industries.
A curfew imposed on Hebron after a terrorist attack there Saturday was lifted today. An investigation of the incident in which a Druze border policeman was killed ended but no results were announced. The policeman was attacked with small arms while riding in a jeep near the Hebron post office.