JERUSALEM (Mar. 21)
Political sources here were hopeful but by no means certain today that the United States will exercise its veto power to quash an anti-Israel resolution expected to be introduced in the UN Security Council tomor- row. The Council has been called into special session by the Islamic nations to debate the escalating unrest on the West Bank.
A draft resolution circulated by Libya and Pakistan condemns Israel for alleged “repressive measures” against the inhabitants of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, alleged “desecration” of Moslem holy places and “expropriation of Arab lands” for the “establishment of Jewish settlements” thereon. Sources here said Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Chaim Herzog. has been instructed to take an active part in the debate and that he would be among the first speakers.
There was a noticeable diminution of violence on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem over the weekend as Israeli army units and police patrolled potential trouble spots. Premier Yitzhak Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres were said to have been at odds over what course to follow in those areas.
At a meeting of ministers last week, Rabin reportedly advocated a tough stance backed up by re-enforced military patrols while the usually hawkish Peres advocated a low profile on the part of Israeli forces. Rabin’s views prevailed and sources here credited the Premier for the de-escalation over the weekend although tension continues to run high.
EL-JABAARI THREATENS TO RESIGN
Meanwhile, the political situation on the West Bank deteriorated from Israel’s point of view when Sheikh Mohammed Ali el-Jabaari, the Mayor of Hebron, announced yesterday that he would resign to protest the forcible entry of Israeli troops into his Town Hall in pursuit of Arab rioters.
If he carries out his intention, he will be the eighth West Bank mayor to resign within the past two weeks. Such a move by el-Jabaari, in advance of the West Bank municipal elections to be held next month, would be a serious blow to Israel’s policy of cultivating moderates among the West Bank leadership as a counter-force to the pro-PLO militants.
The Hebron mayor, who is close to King Hussein of Jordan, is regarded as one of the most moderate and reasonable leaders on the West Bank. He has frequently participated in friendly dialogues with Israeli officials in an atmosphere of mutual respect and has helped ease frictions that have developed between Hebron Arabs and the Jewish settlers of adjacent Kiryat Arba.
Some observers of West Bank affairs said today that el-Jabaari’s threat to quit was intended to consolidate his position in the upcoming elections. They noted that he said he would not stand for re-election “under the circumstances,” leaving the door open for a change of mind should the “circumstances” change.
Nevertheless, el-Jabaari has sharply criticized Israeli authorities for failing to clarify immediately their position on Jewish prayer services on the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem, site of two Islamic shrines, the El Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. The recent ruling by a Jerusalem magistrate that Jews had a right to pray there was one of the factors that touched off riots and protest strikes on the West bank and East Jerusalem. The government has appealed the ruling to the District Court and has announced that it would continue to enforce the ban on Jewish prayer at the site.
But el-Jabaari claimed the Israeli authorities acted too late and with insufficient vigor. Significantly, the Hebron mayor was joined in his condemnation by Jerusalem’s Deputy Mayor Yehoshua Matza of Likud who sided with Mayor Teddy Kollek of the Labor Party against two Likud City Council members, Rabbi Louis Rabinowitz and Gershon Solomon. Solomon was the leader of a Jewish group that tried to hold prayer services on the Temple Mount last week but was dispersed by police.
SOLDIER HELD FOR WOUNDING 3 ARAB YOUTHS
In a related development, an Israeli soldier has been remanded in custody for allegedly firing shots that wounded three Arab youngsters, one of them critically, in an incident on the Jerusalem-Jericho road last week. Bezalel Dehaan, a reserve soldier, was jailed for 15 days pending an investigation of the shooting incident which occurred Wednesday when Arab youths set up a roadblock and allegedly stoned a private vehicle in which several Israeli soldiers were riding.
Afani Ali, II, was reported in a critical condition at Hadassah Hospital following surgery for removal of a bullet from his head. Hospital officials said the boy’s life was still in danger and that a team of doctors was treating him around the clock.
The Defense Ministry announced today that it would continue its policy of ensuring security and essential civilian services on the West-Bank but would not interfere in strikes if they were conducted peacefully. “We will guarantee water supplies and garbage collection, but if the local people want to close their shops or schools that is their affair,” a Ministry source said.