JERUSALEM (Mar. 13)
Two close friends of missing publisher Yussef Nassri Nassr were arraigned in a Jerusalem magistrates court today in connection with his mysterious disappearance a month ago. They are Jamil Hammad, editor of the East Jerusalem Arahic newspaper Al Fajr which Nassr published and Bassin Hananya, a local pharmacist. Police who suspect foul play, believe the two know more about Nassr’s disappearance than they disclosed in previous interrogations. Police have questioned several dozen persons in the case and detained nine.
Five of the latter have been released and two others are expected to be released but the remaining two may be arraigned. The fact that all were close associates or friends of the publisher indicate that the police are still in the dark.
SERIOUS REPERCUSSIONS ON WEST BANK
Nassr disappeared shortly after arriving at his home a month ago and has not been heard from since. He has not been seen by anyone known to the police. The case has the potential for serious political repercussions on the West Bank. Nassr was bitterly anti-Hussein and strongly favored the creation of a Palestinian entity on the West Bank independent of both Israel and Jordan. Israeli authorities suspect that he was kidnapped for political reasons. But the political issue he posed is an explosive one on the West Bank where the populace is growing restive because of the uncertainty of their future status.
With the Middle East appearing to be on the threshold of a period of disengagement and negotiation, the pro and anti-Hussein forces on the West Bank are mustering their strength. While both elements desire some sort of autonomy for the region in which over a million Palestinian Arabs live, politicians like Hebron’s influential Mayor Mohammed All al-Jaabari believe any settlement has to be worked out between Israel and Jordan. His is a view shared by the Israeli government:
Mayor al-Jaabari, who may be the strongest politician on the West Bank, apparently hopes that when peace talks with Jordan start, the traditional leadership on the West Bank will be invited to participate as an equal partner. Recent reports from Jordan indicated that King Hussein intends to include the West Bank leadership in the Jordanian delegation to the Middle East peace conference in Geneva–if and when the conference resumes.