JERUSALEM (Dec. 21)
Maj. Gen. Raphael Vardi, the military governor of the West Bank, warned yesterday that he would not tolerate political interference or disturbances during the municipal elections to be held in at least ten West Bank towns within three months. Israeli authorities warned earlier that Army officers would take over the town halls in any town that failed to nominate candidates for the elections which have been ordered by the military government. The warnings were issued to counteract threats of retaliation by the Jordanian government against localities and officials that cooperate in elections held under Israeli auspices.
The threats from Amman have apparently had some effect. Leaders of Nablus, the largest West Bank town, announced yesterday that they would boycott the elections and other townships may take a similar decision. Gen. Vardi, who visited Nablus, Tulkarom and Jenin, said the military government had no political aims in ordering elections but merely wants to provide the population with an opportunity–their first since 1963–to elect representatives to replace town councilmen whose terms expired four years ago.
Jordan is opposed to the elections for two reasons: they would tend to confirm the permanence of Israel’s rule in the West Bank and they would encourage separatist tendencies among West Bankers. The Jordanian government still pays the salaries and otherwise subsidizes many West Bank officials. The payment could be stopped if they cooperate in the elections.