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West Bank Arabs Differ on Political Future; Young Arabs Threatened by Terrorists

Opinion among West Bank Arabs as to their own political future is sharply divided. Several factions have emerged since the civil war in Jordan in September emphasizing the schism and giving rise to a generation gap. This was indicated by a group of young West Bank and East Jerusalem intellectuals who are debating whether to ask Israeli authorities for permission to hold a “Palestinian Congress.” The group is headed by Ahmed Baram, a journalist employed by the East Jerusalem Arabic newspaper El Anba and includes a number of local merchants and two lawyers from the Gaza Strip. But the main purpose of their Congress seems to be to counter a “Palestinian Congress” proposed by Sheikh Ali Jaabari, the militant Mayor of Hebron who is disliked by the younger generation. Sheikh Ali favors closer ties with King Hussein, of Jordan. The young group has also been threatened by pro-terrorist extremists on the West Bank who accuse them of “playing into the hands of the Israelis.”