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West Bankers in Dispute over “open Bridges” Policy

A sharp dispute has surfaced between two groups of West Bank dignitaries, one of which opposes the “open bridges” policy that allows free traffic and trade between the West Bank and Jordan and opens the West Bank to visitors from the rest of the Arab world. The group is planning to petition the Arab League Council convening in Cairo shortly to demand a closing of the bridges. They claim the open bridges policy is tantamount to Arab recognition of Israel and helps the Israeli authorities solve the economic and social problems of the West Bank. The other group contends that the petitioners are advocates of a separate Palestinian state on the West Bank. They claim that if the bridges are closed. young Arabs would be forced to study in Israeli rather than in Arab universities and that all West Bank residents would have to find Jobs in Israel. It was reported today that Syria and Lebanon will propose in Cairo that the bridges be closed except on religious holidays.