Knesset Bars Debate on Return of Arabs to Security Zone

The Knesset struck down a motion to discuss the return of Arab villagers to Ikrit and Baram on the Lebanese border which were evacuated during the 1948 war for independence and are inside a designated security zone. The motion; presented by Tewfik Toubi of the New Communist faction and Uri Avneri of Haolam Hazeh, called for the abolition of security zones.

Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, replying for the Government said that Premier Golda Meir has already promised the Greek Catholic Archbishop, Joseph Raya of Nazareth that the case would be reconsidered. Dayan said the Archbishop, who has been active in behalf of the villagers seeking return, agreed to accept the results of the reconsideration as final. Dayan said he would propose that Ikrit and Baram continue to be closed.

In 1948 the inhabitants of the two Uper Galilee villages were evacuated, ostensibly for a two week period. But the authorities refused to permit their return. The villages were subsequently razed and their inhabitants relocated elsewhere. Appearing on a recent television question-and-answer program, Gen. Dayan opposed the return and observed that “the clock cannot be turned back.” He said the security reasons that motivated the evacuation of the villages 25 years ago are still valid today. He noted that all Israeli Army chiefs of staff since then have opposed the return of the villagers for security reasons.

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