TEL AVIV (Jun. 2)
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan said today that Israel has no intention of intervening in attempts by Palestinian Arabs to organize themselves politically but is obligated to further the economic development, health and social services in the occupied territories.
Gen. Dayan spoke at a press conference marking the second anniversary of Israel’s administration of the territories captured in the June, 1967 Six-Day War. He said the only Israeli intervention in the territories would be against saboteurs, underground terrorist groups and inciters to violence.
Gen. Dayan pointed to a virtually unblemished record of peaceful administration by Israel during the past two years. Except for two “regretted” instances when Israeli troops fired into crowds of demonstrators in the Gaza Strip, not a shot was fired against a civilian population of the occupied territories, he said. In his remarks to newsmen, Gen. Dayan stressed Israel’s obligation to preserve law, to raise living standards and introduce a sound, healthy economy. He said there was significant progress along these lines in the past two years but considerably more could be done.
The Defense Minister said he was disinclined to use the words “occupied” or “liberated” with reference to the Arab territories. Their status, he said, would be decided in the years ahead. Meanwhile the respective military governors were working within this framework and were trying to create a situation that would suit whatever solution is eventually arrived at and create the basis for better understanding, Gen. Dayan said.
The news conference was also addressed by Gen. Rafael Vardi, military governor of Judea and Samaria (West Bank), and Gen. Motta Gur, military commander of the Gaza Strip. Gen. Vardi said that all services have returned to normal on the West Bank and in many cases are on a much higher standard than existed prior to the 1967 war. He said there were more teachers and more pupils attending school, much better health services and an improved employment situation. According to Gen. Vardi, 15,000 West Bank Arabs are employed in Israel, though only a third of them got their jobs through the official labor exchanges. He said 2,500 West Bankers were employed in local public works. Exports to the East Bank of the Jordan continue and last year 170,000 West Bankers visited Jordan and other Arab countries. He said freedom of movement was maintained despite some terrorist activity and civil disobedience.
Gen. Gur told the newsmen that the Gaza Strip economy, long a source of concern, is improving as many Israeli and Arab businessmen invest money there to establish factories and workshops. He said the new economy would be erected on a sound basis, not on smuggling which was one of its mainstays before the Six-Day War. Gen. Gur said terrorist activities have been reduced in the Gaza Strip. He said there were 150 Israelis employed in the administration of the area and some 2,000 local Arab civil servants.