Request for Greater Power for West Bank Mayors Ignored by Israelis

Sheikh Mohammed All Jaabari, the Mayor of Hebron, has asked Israeli authorities to grant greater powers to the newly elected mayors on the West Bank. But his plea is expected to go unheeded. Jaabari was re-elected without opposition in the municipal elections in the Judaea district May 8. Today he received his official letter of appointment from Brig. Gen. Raphael Vardi, Military Governor of the West Bank.

In making the presentation. Gen. Vardi pointedly ignored Jaabari’s request that Israel permit the newly elected mayors to hold a congress to discuss problems facing their constituents on the West Bank including the area’s future. He also urged that the mayors of the major West Bank towns be given the powers of the former Jordanian district governors whose functions ceased with the end of Amman’s rule over the West Bank in June, 1967.

JORDAN BELATEDLY RECOGNIZES ELECTION

While Israel sponsored and vigorously promoted the West Bank municipal elections, Israeli officials have made it clear that they intend to limit West Bank political activity to the municipal level. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan warned this week that if the Arabs in the occupied territories are permitted to organize politically they would inevitably drift toward political opposition to Israel.

Gen. Vardi delivered letters of appointment to 11 other mayors in Judaea completing the formal appointments of mayors in 23 West Bank towns. Mayors in the Samaria district were appointed earlier. The Samaria elections were held March 28. The Jordanian government sent letters to the new West Bank mayors asking for specimens of their signatures which will be used to verify documents transferred from the West Bank to Jordan, it was reported today. The request was the first indication that Amman recognizes the new mayors although Jordan was bitterly opposed to the West Bank elections.

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