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Peres: West Bank Elections Can Be Faced Successfully by Israel

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Defense Minister Shimon Peres said last night that the sweeping victory of Palestinian nationalists and radicals in the West Bank municipal elections Monday should not be viewed as “a day of mourning for Israel” but rather as a challenge which the nation could successfully face. He said that, as an Israeli, he was proud that free, democratic elections had been conducted in an orderly manner.

Peres’ view was echoed by military officials who differed from the widespread pessimism that the election results were a serious setback for Israel’s hopes on the West Bank. These officials contended that the newly elected mayors and town councilmen might well prove cooperative and practical-minded once in office, regardless of their radical ideology, because they would have the day-by-day responsibility of providing local services for the citizenry.

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