Decision Final on Ikrit, Baram, Says Mrs. Meir; Villagers Cannot Return

Premier Golda Meir indicated today that the former Arab residents of Ikrit and Baram villages near the Lebanese border will not be permitted to return even if the security situation improves on the northern frontier. Questioned in the Knesset today by Uri Avneri of the Haolam Hazeh faction, Mrs. Meir said the Cabinet’s decision barring a return was final. Asked by Avneri if the decision might be altered if the security situation changed, Mrs. Meir repeated, “The decision is final.”

Ikrit and Baram were evacuated in 1948 and their residents resettled elsewhere. The villages were subsequently razed for security reasons. A petition by the former residents to return to the old sites was denied earlier this year on security grounds.

Replying to MK Shmuel Tamir of the Free Center faction, Mrs. Meir refused to confirm or deny a Time magazine story last month that Israeli officials had held meetings with officials from Jordan Egypt and the Soviet Union. Mrs. Meir said she could not “analyze every speculative press report.”

In reply to another question from Tamir, the Prime Minister said that no formal complaints had been received from the Democratic Party in the U.S. over allegedly pro-Nixon statements by Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin before the American Presidential election. Mrs. Meir said that American citizens who asked about the statements were told that Israel’s policy was not to interfere in the U.S. elections.

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