JERUSALEM (Mar. 22)
Sheikh Mohammed Ali el-Jabaari, the Mayor of Hebron, announced today that he would withdraw his resignation tendered over the weekend. He also pledged, at a meeting with Defense Minister Shimon Peres, to use his influence to restore order in Hebron. Peres promised, for his part, that Israeli police and security forces would keep a low profile in Hebron, the largest city in the Judaea region of the West Bank.
Jabaari’s decision was welcomed in Israeli circles as a possible turning point in the recent wave of violence and demonstrations on the West Bank. His announcement followed a Supreme Court ruling yesterday upholding the government’s ban on Jewish prayer services on the Temple Mount, the site of two Islamic shrines.
Jaabari is regarded as one of the most moderate West Bank leaders. He is close to King Hussein of Jordan and has had cordial relations with Israeli authorities. His decision to stand for re-election in the West Bank municipal elections April 12, raised hopes here that moderates might prevail over pro-PLO militants inasmuch as Jabaari enjoys considerable influence outside the precincts of his own town.
However, the Hebron Mayor coupled his announcement that he would not resign with demands that Israeli authorities restrain the Jewish settlers of Kiryat Arba, adjacent to Hebron, and that no further Jewish settlements be permitted in the area. He also asked for the release of Arab demonstrators arrested in the recent disturbances.
Peres met today with a group of Kiryat Arba residents who protested the restraining order imposed by the Military Government on their leader. Rabbi Moshe Levinger, which prevents him from entering the Machpela Cave, the Patriarchs’ Tomb in Hebron. Levinger faces possible prosecution for incitement to violence because he exhorted Kiryat Arba residents on a television interview last week to “shoot to kill” if they were menaced by Arabs.
CRITICAL OF MEDIA’S WEST BANK COVERAGE
The Cabinet, meanwhile, was virtually unanimous in its criticism yesterday of the Israeli news media’s coverage of events on the West Bank. Some ministers said that televising the disturbances and the army’s measures to quell them had a demoralizing effect on Israelis. Others contended that the presence of TV cameras incited young hotheads to take violent actions Peres was scheduled to meet with TV news directors today to discuss the issue.
The Broadcast Authority’s management committee, however, has unanimously approved the coverage of events on the West Bank. The committee endorsed the decisions of the senior news staff to present the news as it happens without censorship or whitewash.