West Bank Mayors Petition Hussein to Rescind 15 Percent Import-export Tax

West Bank mayors are petitioning King Hussein to rescind a 15 percent tax on all Imports and exports crossing the Jordan River bridges. The tax was announced yesterday In Amman. The mayors met in urgent session last night and selected Hikhmet el Massri, former speaker of the Jordanian Parliament and a close friend of Hussein, to present their petition to the King.

The petition states that the tax “creates a division between the West and East banks” thereby “creating two separate states. This can only be interpreted that you are no longer interested In West Bankers and declare the West Bank to be outside your territory.”

The mayors acted as concern mounted on the West Bank over another measure decreed Sunday in Amman that would severely curtail the flow of Jordanian visitors and currency Into the West Bank. The Jordanian Ministry of Interior announced that Jordanians will be allowed to enter the West Bank only once every two years for visits not exceeding two weeks and will be allowed to take with them no more than 50 dinars. A fine of five dinars will be imposed for each day that a visitor exceeds the two week limit.

That measure and the new tax were sharply denounced by Sheikh Mazouz el Massri, Mayor of Nablus, the largest West Bank town. “This means that all the talk about re-unification and national unity is Just rubbish and empty words,” he said.

The Interior Ministry In Amman explained the measures as economic moves. But some political observers believe that the Jordanian government acceded to pressure from other Arab governments which objected to the free traffic across the Jordan bridges and especially the Influx of Arabs into the West Bank during the summer vacation period. An estimated 105,000 Arabs from several countries have taken advantage of Israel’s summer program which permits them to visit friends and relatives on the West Bank and In Israel proper. Other sources said Amman preferred to have West Bankers visit Jordan and spend their money there.

In another development yesterday, King Hussein was quoted by the Beirut newspaper An Nahar as having accused the Palestinian terrorist movement of plotting with Libya to overthrow him. According to a published interview, Hussein said Yasir Arafat, the El Fatah leader, participated in the plot and that a Jordanian Army officer, Maj. Rafeh Hindawi, confessed that he received the equivalent of $50,000 from an Arafat deputy for his role In the conspiracy. Hindawi was arrested earlier this month and a number of Jordanian civilians have been detained.

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